Kitty Hawk WEA Leases 1st NC Offered
What if the Federal Government offered wind energy leases and no one bid?
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced the Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area (WEA) would be opening for bids in 2017. There is a public comment period that will end on October 17, 2016 and according to the BOEM press release a public meeting will be held on the Outer Banks sometime in September.
Although there are a number of step still to go, BOEM is “…hoping to have an auction early next year,” Tracey Moriarty, BOEM Office of Public Affairs said.
The Kitty Hawk WEA, covering 122,045 acres of ocean, lies 24 nautical miles from the Outer Banks and 2000 MW of power is considered a conservative estimate of its energy potential. That would be enough energy to power a large city.
The energy may never be developed though.
According to North Carolina Dominion Power spokeswomen Bonita Harris, Dominion Power has no plans to participate in this round of lease bids. “We’re not going to be bidding on the leases,” she said.
That is significant because Dominion Power purchased the lease rights to the Virginia Beach WEA, a 112,799 acre site east of Hampton Roads. According to Harris, Dominion Power had applied for a Federal grant to develop experimental wind energy platforms, but had declined the grants because they did not cover the cost of the project. At this point in time, the power company is not developing any experimental offshore wind energy projects.
The Kitty Hawk WEA is generally thought to have better wind energy potential than the Virginia Beach area, but Dominion Power’s concerns about expense are a cautionary note in the bidding process.
Although any commercially viable energy from the Kitty Hawk WEA is a minimum of seven years away under the best of circumstances, the first commercial offshore wind energy system in the United States is about to start generating electricity.
The Deepwater One Wind Energy Area is located 3.8 miles south of Block Island, Rhode Island. A relatively small wind farm, the site consists of five turbines generating 30 MW of energy. A project in state waters, because it is so close to land, many of the expenses associated with federal projects that are located 15-25 miles offshore have not plagued the project.
Plans call for the Deepwater One project to be online by the end of the year.
Although the energy potential is much greater farther away from the coastline, construction costs and the price tag for laying cable to carry the energy soar as the project area moves away from the shoreline.