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    Cooper touts offshore wind projects


    August 7, 2022 - Paul Nielsen The Daily Advance

     

      ELIZABETH CITY — Gov. Roy Cooper told the N.C. Taskforce for Offshore Wind Economic Resource Strategies on Thursday that offshore wind projects off the state's coast will put money in the pockets of North Carolinians.

      Cooper made his remarks at the group's meeting at the K.E. White Center after visiting the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind pilot project 27 miles off the coast from Virginia Beach earlier in the day.

      Cooper told NC TOWERS that it is expected that $140 billion will be invested in the development of wind farms off the Atlantic Coast by 2035.

      Two offshore wind turbine projects, including one 27 miles off the coast from Corolla, are already in the developmental stages.

      Renewable energy company Avangrid — which has operated the Amazon Wind Farm US East project in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties since 2017 — is expected to begin construction on its Kitty Hawk project in 2025. When completed, that project will include 180 wind turbines on 122,000 acres and produce enough clean energy to power about 700,000 homes.

      TotalEnergies just won the lease rights in May for a 120-square-mile offshore wind farm 20 miles off the coast from Wilmington.

      Cooper said it is important to be on the front end of taking advantage of the economic development opportunities that offshore wind farms will generate.

      Representatives at the NC TOWERS meeting said before Cooper spoke that offshore wind farms offer manufacturing, supply chain and operations and maintenance opportunities all along the North Carolina coast.

      "We have to get the supply chain going here to reap the benefits," Cooper said. "When you think of the power that can be generated using the resources that God gave us, it is stunning."

      Cooper said the waters off the state's coast are ideally suited for wind farms. Both the Kitty Hawk project and the one off the coast from Wilmington will not be visible from shore.

      "We know they can produce significant energy because there are significant winds that will bring energy on shore to power homes and businesses in a clean way," Cooper said. "It will help us phase out our coal plants and our gas plants."

      Cooper took a 90-minute boat ride from Virginia Beach Thursday morning to see the two wind turbines. The turbines are part of the Dominion Energy's 178 wind turbine project.

      "I got within a few feet (of the two turbines), Cooper said. "There they are out of sight (from the shore), peaceful, powerful, quiet, generating electricity to power homes and businesses along our shore.''

      Cooper announced the formation of NC TOWERS in June 2021 to advance offshore wind energy projects in North Carolina, with a special focus on economic development and job creation.

      "The work you guys have done in the economic development part of this, infrastructure, job training, public engagement, environmental justice, it is so important," Cooper said. "We are becoming the epicenter for clean energy in this country. We know that this is something we need to do."

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