On June 9, 2021, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 218 (NC EO), which targets 2.8 GW of offshore wind (OSW) by 2030 and 8 GW by 2040 and anticipates the creation of 600,000 related jobs and an annual contribution to North Carolina’s economy of $70 billion.
The NC EO follows a 2018 Executive Order and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia establishing the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Transformative Partnership for Offshore Wind Energy Resources (SMART-POWER) to cooperatively promote, develop and expand offshore wind energy generation and the accompanying industry supply chain and workforce.
The NC EO requires that the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Commerce (Secretary) “designate a clean energy economic development coordinator (‘the Coordinator’) to secure the economic and workforce opportunities clean energy, including offshore wind, can provide North Carolina.” The NC EO states that the Coordinator will:
- Identify and analyze North Carolina's economic and workforce opportunities and challenges presented by the transition to a clean energy economy.
- Develop and implement policies and programs that capture strategic opportunities for North Carolina's workforce and businesses to thrive in a clean energy economy.
- Coordinate with divisions of the North Carolina Department of Commerce (‘Commerce’), state agencies, local governments, businesses, community colleges, military leaders, SMART-POWER states and other partners to maximize North Carolina's economic opportunities as the state transitions to a clean energy economy.
- Lead Commerce's efforts to develop the state's offshore wind supply chain, workforce and infrastructure.
The NC EO also requires the Secretary to establish the N.C. Taskforce for Offshore Wind Economic Resource Strategies (“NC TOWERS” or “Taskforce”) to “provide expert advice for advancing North Carolina offshore wind energy projects, economic development and job creation.”
The Taskforce is to comprise “a mix of individuals who represent a variety of perspectives, including state and local government, offshore wind industry, economic development, workforce, military, higher education, environmental protection, equity and justice, marine industry, and tourism.”
In addition, the NC EO requires that the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) “take the following actions to support responsible development of offshore wind energy projects in the Outer Continental Shelf off the North Carolina coast, consistent with the targets established in [the NC EO]”:
- Designate an offshore wind coordinator to lead NCDEQ's offshore wind—related activities[.]
- [I]nterface with state cabinet agencies and support implementation of SMART-POWER.
- Coordinate efforts with Commerce to ensure alignment and synergy between offshore wind development and economic development efforts within the state.
- Collaborate with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and other federal partners to advance the leasing and development of North Carolina's existing Wind Energy Areas.
- Work with the federal government and other partners to identify and lease new areas for offshore wind energy development through BOEM's established deconfliction process, the U.S. Department of Defense Military Aviation and Installation Assurance Siting Clearinghouse, and other mechanisms that address potential competing ocean uses, such as military operations and readiness, shipping lanes, habitat and migratory patterns, fishing and visibility.
- Review, clarify and streamline regulatory and permitting requirements, as appropriate, that are applicable to offshore wind energy development, related onshore infrastructure and attendant offshore wind energy-related activities.
Last, the NC EO requires that the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs “designate an offshore wind coordinator to serve as the State's offshore wind liaison to North Carolina's military installations, help ensure offshore wind energy projects do not interfere with the ability of North Carolina's military installations to provide for the national defense, and coordinate with Commerce, NCDEQ, and others on issues related to military and veteran affairs.”
The NC EO also notes that the Governor’s office will “continue to convene the Offshore Wind Interagency Workgroup (‘the Workgroup’) at least quarterly to coordinate state cabinet agencies on cross-cutting issues. The Workgroup shall include senior officials from Commerce, NCDEQ, North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, North Carolina Department of Transportation and any other relevant cabinet agency or state-affiliated entity identified by the Governor's Office.”