WILMINGTON, N.C. — North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia have formally agreed to collaborate on advancing offshore wind projects and jobs in a memorandum of understanding signed by Governors Roy Cooper, Larry Hogan and Ralph Northam.
Dominion Energy currently operates the only federally approved offshore wind farm off the Virginia coast, but the industry is expanding, and neighboring states want a piece of the pie.
Larry Lombardi, economic development director for Currituck County, said offshore wind is another strategy for creating sustainable jobs in the region.
“Particularly along the coast,” Lombardi explained. “That’s already been proven in Europe, in the type of jobs that are involved with ongoing maintenance and operation. Our community colleges will need to revamp the way they educate children. Those are going to be the things that we need to put in place today.”
The three states are slated to form a leadership team that will work to streamline industry regulations, encourage the manufacturing of wind-turbine parts and build regional offshore wind infrastructure such as deepwater ports.
Gov. Cooper said offshore wind development combined with strong solar capacity will bring more high-paying, clean-energy jobs to the state and fight against climate change.
John Hardin executive director for the Office of Science, Technology and Innovation at the North Carolina Department of Commerce said the memorandum sends a coordinated message the region will work together to move the industry forward, and ensures any activity occurring off North Carolina’s coasts will benefit residents.
“If we can share information, then the opportunities are going to be greater and the potential to develop more offshore wind farms off the coast of North Carolina will also be greater,” Hardin contended. “To the extent that we can present ourselves as a region that collaborates, we’ll be able to attract more of that activity to our Southeastern region.”
Katharine Kollins, president of the Southeastern Wind Coalition, said the U.S. is poised to generate enough electricity to power millions of homes through offshore wind over the next decade.
“Environmentalists are proponents of offshore wind, business is a proponent of offshore wind,” Kollins explained. “So there are a lot of advantages to development offshore wind that we just don’t have with other technologies.”
Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states are increasingly on the radar of offshore wind developers and global supply-chain companies for their economic potential.
One report found North Carolina already is home to nearly thirty manufacturers of wind-turbine components, from blades and towers to raw components such as fiberglass and steel.