More than 110,000 acres off the Bald Head Island coast will soon be home to a wind turbine farm.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has auctioned off the two wind energy lease sites roughly 20 nautical miles from the coast of Brunswick County for a combined $315 million.
Duke Energy Renewables Wind won the right to develop offshore wind on the eastern 54,154-acre site with a bid of $155 million. Total Energies Renewables USA bid $160 million to develop the 54,937-acre western site.
The combined sites are expected generate 1.3 gigawatts of renewable energy if fully developed, enough to power about 500,000 homes. Last year, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper announced a statewide goal to produce 2.8 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 and 8 gigawatts by 2040.
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The auction comes at a time of increased urgency, as a looming 10-year moratorium on offshore wind energy development is set to take effect in July.
Over the past year, several Brunswick municipalities have come out against the offshore leases, citing affects the visual impacts would have to the tourist-dependent economy. Brunswick County, Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Caswell Beach and the Village of Bald Head Island have all passed resolutions opposing their construction.
Charter fisherman have also questioned how the turbines might affect migratory fish and say the turbines are located in a popular fishing spots such as Southwest Tower Bottom and The Horseshoe.
According to BOEM, they've responded to local concerns by reducing the wind lease area by 14%, making it less visible from the mainland, and requiring monitoring on migration patterns.
Previous coverage: Offshore wind energy is coming to Brunswick County. Here's why fishermen are skeptical
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The winning bidders also pledged to invest $42 million total in domestic supply chain and workforce training. A January 2022 study from the Southeastern Wind Coalition found that if the state reaches its 2.8 megawatt wind energy production goal by 2030, it will result in "a net economic benefit of up to $4.6 billion."
"Investments from two developers means increased supply chain investment and recruitment, workforce development and thousands of good-paying jobs, and infrastructure development that will support other North Carolina industries," coalition president Katharine Kollins said in a release.
An anti-competitiveness review of the auction will be conducted by the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission before the leases are finalized.
Reporter John Orona can be reached at 910-343-2327 or email@example.com.