The North Carolina Taskforce for Offshore Wind Economic Resource Strategies (NC TOWERS), held its second meeting in Wilmington May 5th.
NC TOWERS brings together representatives from government, industry, wildlife and environmental advocates, community leaders and the military to help North Carolina take advantage of the economic and environmental opportunities that offshore wind and the associated supply chain present.
Taskforce members heard the first progress reports from the Taskforce’s four subcommittees:
- Economic Opportunity and Business Development
- Workforce, Education and Training Opportunity Development
- Infrastructure, Environmental Justice and Inclusion
- Outreach and Engagement
Presentations from each subcommittee can be viewed on the Department of Commerce website and a complete recording of the meeting can be viewed here: NC TOWERS Taskforce Meeting - May 5, 2022 - YouTube
Taskforce staff will work with Taskforce members to develop the initial ideas from these presentations into final recommendations that will be included in the Taskforce’s first annual report. That report will be delivered to Governor Cooper and the NC General Assembly by June 30th.
The Taskforce is charged with presenting an annual report to the Governor and the NC General Assembly that summarizes the status of North Carolina’s offshore wind energy development activities and recommends policies, programs and other activities to advance offshore wind-related projects, supply chain development and other economic opportunities.
In addition to the subcommittee presentations, Taskforce members heard from guest speakers and subject matter experts on a variety of issues impacting their work.
Jennifer Mundt, Commerce Assistant Secretary for Clean Energy Economic Development, provided an update on economic development efforts at recent industry conferences.
“We’ve been able to meet face-to-face with manufacturers up and down the supply chain for offshore wind,” said Mundt. “And these folks see North Carolina as a great opportunity for investment in the offshore wind supply chain.”
Offshore wind development along the U.S. Atlantic Coast – and the accompanying supply chain – present a significant economic opportunity for North Carolina, with an estimated 85,000 new jobs and $140 billion in capital expenditures along the Atlantic Coast by 2035.
North Carolina is well positioned to attract a significant portion of the jobs and economic investment opportunity that the offshore wind industry presents, according to the Building North Carolina’s Offshore Wind Supply Chain Report commissioned by the N.C. Department of Commerce and released last year.
On May 11, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held an offshore wind auction for two lease areas off the North Carolina coast. BOEM split the 110,091- acre wind energy area in the Carolina Long Bay into two lease areas of similar size and energy generation capacity. The winning provisional bid for one lease area came in at $160M and the winning provisional bid for the second lease area came in at $155M. More information on the auction is available on BOEM’s website.
“As the successful wind energy lease auction off our coast shows, there is extraordinary potential to create jobs, protect our environment, and grow North Carolina’s economy by harnessing offshore wind power,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “The NC TOWERS Taskforce is ensuring that North Carolina will continue to be a leader in developing this resource as we transition to our clean energy future.”
NC TOWERS Taskforce Chairwoman Marqueta Welton said, “North Carolina has the greatest potential for offshore wind energy generation of any state on the East Coast. And the offshore wind industry recognizes this, as evidenced by the strong showing in last week’s auction.
“And North Carolina has the industrial capacity this industry needs today,” said Welton, who also serves as Commerce Chief of Staff, “with the highest manufacturing presence on the East Coast – and the highly-skilled workforce to go with it.”
Other presentations at the Taskforce meeting included an overview of North Carolina’s ports by Brian Clark, the Executive Director of the North Carolina State Ports Authority and a Taskforce member. The Port of Wilmington has been recognized by the Journal of Commerce as the most productive port in North America and the fastest growing port in the U.S.
Dana Magliola, Taskforce staff liaison from the NC Department of Transportation, presented on the role of the supply chain in economic development.
Susan Fleetwood, Commerce Executive Director of Economic Development, moderated a panel discussion featuring:
- Sam Eaton, Executive Vice President, Americas Offshore Development, RWE
- Scot Hewitt Gudgin, Senior Director of Offshore Project Services, Avangrid Renewables
- Rebecca Karp, Managing Principal and CEO, Karp Strategies
- Sam Salustro, Director for Coalitions & Strategic Partnerships, The Business Network for Offshore Wind
- Teresa Strum, CEO, Strum Contracting Company, Inc.
The May 5th meeting marked the first meeting for several new Taskforce members. The group welcomed the following new Taskforce members:
- Daniel Govoni, NC Department of Environmental Quality, Coastal Management Division
- Arketa Howard, Crowley
- John White, Dominion Energy
- Greg Richardson, NC Department of Administration, NC Commission of Indian Affairs
The North Carolina Department of Commerce established NC TOWERS per Governor Cooper’s directive in Executive Order No. 218. To help increase North Carolina’s attractiveness to the offshore wind industry, the Order also established offshore wind development goals of 2.8 gigawatts off the North Carolina coast by 2030 and 8.0 gigawatts by 2040.
The NC TOWERS taskforce provides expert advice to Governor Cooper and state policymakers on ways to advance offshore wind energy projects in North Carolina, with a special focus on economic development and job creation.
The next Taskforce meeting will be held August 4th and 5th.
For more information on the taskforce, including upcoming meetings and member biographies, visit the NC TOWERS webpage.