The North Carolina Taskforce for Offshore Wind Economic Resource Strategies (NC TOWERS) held its quarterly meeting in Charlotte February 1 to discuss the statewide opportunities that offshore wind and its supply chain offer North Carolinians. The taskforce meeting followed a third North Carolina and UK working group meeting scheduled earlier in the week, since the signing of the joint Memorandum of Understanding.
“There are 27 offshore wind projects currently under development from Maine to North Carolina – including three off the North Carolina coast,” said N.C. Department of Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “These projects, and the supply chain to support them, represent the potential for tens of billions of dollars in economic investments across North Carolina and tens of thousands of family-sustaining jobs for North Carolinians.”
N.C. Commerce Assistant Secretary for Clean Energy Economic Development, Jennifer Mundt, gave Taskforce members an update on the growing U.S. offshore wind industry.
“Offshore wind is a reality in the U.S,” said Assistant Secretary Mundt. “With two projects already sending power to the U.S. energy grid, it’s not a question of ‘if’ – it’s now a question of ‘how fast’ the industry develops.”
The South Fork Wind project off the coast of New York State began sending power to the U.S. energy grid in December of 2023. It was closely followed by the Vineyard Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts, which began sending power to the grid in early January 2024.
Mundt also noted that Duke Energy filed supplemental carbon plan modeling with the North Carolina Utilities Commission the day prior to the Taskforce meeting. That supplemental modeling calls for Duke to include 2.4 GW of offshore wind power in its energy portfolio by 2035. Under the bi-partisan H.B. 951, the Utilities Commission is directed to take all reasonable steps to achieve a seventy percent reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050.
Taskforce members also received an update on the progress of Dominion Energy’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project (CVOW). At 2.6 GW, once developed, CVOW will be the largest offshore wind project in the country. John Larson, Director of Public Policy and Economic Development for Dominion, reported that the project is on budget and on schedule to be fully constructed in 2026.
“North Carolina’s central location on the East Coast means our state can support offshore wind projects like CVOW and others up and down the entire Eastern Seaboard by supplying parts manufactured in North Carolina,” said Marqueta Welton, N.C. Commerce Chief of Staff and NC TOWERS Chair. “There are more than 8,000 parts in each wind turbine,” said Welton, “and 7,000 of those parts are small enough to be manufactured anywhere in North Carolina.”
Last week’s meeting featured a panel discussion with North Carolina companies who are part of the supply chain including – SpanSet, Gulf Wind Technology and Southwire.
Southwire is one of North America’s largest wire and cable producers and the company is supplying all the underground cable to the Vineyard Wind project. Prior to the Taskforce meeting, members toured Southwire’s 240,000 square foot Huntersville plant which features state of the art technology for producing high-voltage and extra high-voltage underground transmission cables.
Taskforce members also met with students from Charlotte Engineering Early College (CEEC) to build small working mini wind turbines and discuss job opportunities in the growing offshore wind industry in North Carolina.
“Public education is workforce development,” said Secretary Sanders. “From early childhood education, to K-12 education, to our amazing community colleges and public universities – public education is workforce development. And investing in our public schools like Charlotte Engineering Early College will strengthen our communities, our economy, and our transition to a clean energy economy.”
The CEEC visit was coordinated by UNC Charlotte’s Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC) and the CLEANcarolinas initiative.
CLEANcarolinas is a multi-state initiative with partners in North and South Carolina working together to establish the Carolinas as a hub for clean energy innovation. EPIC Executive Director and CLEANcarolinas principal investigator Dr. Mike Mazzola gave Taskforce members an update on the initiative during the Taskforce meeting.
NC TOWERS was established by Governor Roy Cooper in 2021 to provide recommendations on ways to advance the offshore wind energy industry in North Carolina, with a special focus on job creation and economic development.