Statement: Gov. Cooper’s Executive Order will help North Carolina harness wind power blowing off our coast

Media Contacts
Drew Ball

This is a key step in building a clean energy future

Environment North Carolina

RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper Issued Executive Order 218 Advancing North Carolina’s Economic and Clean Energy Future With Offshore Wind on Wednesday, which commits the state to a goal of 2.8 gigawatts of wind energy by 2030 and 8 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2040. The order also creates the North Carolina Task Force on Offshore Wind Economic Resource Strategies (NC TOWERS), which will bolster the state’s offshore wind development. In addition, this resolution adds positions within key administrative agencies to focus on helping our state achieve offshore wind’s benefits. 

This announcement follows a flurry of positive activity on offshore wind both regionally and nationally over the past few years.

In October 2019, the governors of Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia announced a three-state collaboration to advance offshore wind projects in the region and promote the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic United States as a hub for offshore wind energy and industry. The creation of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Transformative Partnership for Offshore Wind Energy Resources (SMART-POWER) provides a framework for these states to cooperatively promote, develop and expand offshore wind energy and the accompanying industry supply chain and workforce. 

In March, the North Carolina Department of Commerce released a comprehensive report, Building North Carolina’s Offshore Wind Supply Chain, that concluded “North Carolina stands well positioned to attract a significant portion of a more than $100 billion market opportunity from the growing offshore wind energy industry.” That same month, Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center released a report showing that the wind potential off North Carolina’s coast could provide 465 percent of our 2019 electricity usage and 231 percent of our 2050 projections with offshore wind alone. For 2050 electricity demand projections, the report assumes that U.S. buildings, industry and transportation will all be powered by electricity rather than fossil fuels.

At the end of March, the Biden administration, through the Departments of Interior (DOI), Energy (DOE) and Commerce (DOC), announced an effort to spur offshore wind energy development and set a target of 30,000 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind farms by 2030, while also protecting biodiversity and promoting ocean co-use. That would be enough clean energy to power 10 million American homes for a year and prevent 78 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

In response to Gov. Cooper’s order, Drew Ball, State Director of Environment North Carolina released the following statement:

“Harnessing the massive potential of wind off our coast is a key component to transitioning our state to 100 percent clean energy. With some of the greatest potential for offshore wind in the country, North Carolina stands to gain a lot from wise investments in offshore wind. Gov. Cooper’s executive order is exactly the type of forward-looking leadership our state needs if we hope to reap the benefits of offshore wind and achieve a clean energy future.”

Mark Hooper, a commercial fisherman and board member for NC Catch, issued this statement:

“The fisheries off of North Carolina’s coast provide a livelihood for hundreds of families in our state. We must balance our precious coastal resources with the energy needs of our state and region. The fossil fuel industry has been attempting to drill off of North Carolina’s pristine beaches for years, which would be disastrous for coastal communities. However, offshore wind has the potential to power our homes and businesses with clean renewable energy. Today’s announcement by Governor Cooper shows we can thoughtfully develop these resources, and we must also protect our fisheries. Transparency in the process will be key to ensuring we develop wind energy wisely while also ensuring access to the area for the fishing community. We look forward to working with Governor Cooper to ensure we harness the power of clean energy while also protecting our fishing industry.”