Kitty Hawk as a center of offshore commercial wind energy? Maybe. Looking at the Environmental Assessment the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) just issued, that may be the case.

Any real utility grade development of the site is a long way off—a minimum of five years under the best of circumstances, but it is interesting to note that one of the studies authors remarked that the site is one of the most promising on the East Coast.

As originally mapped out the site would have been one of the largest in the world—in fact, at over 1900 square miles, it may have been the largest. However, concerns about shipping lanes and visual pollution shrank the area to a little over 190 square miles and moved it 24 nautical miles off shore.

If the site is developed, the big remaining question is where would all that power go (something around 2000 MW—enough energy for a good sized city). Although a BOEM map shows a power line coming to the Outer Banks, there is universal agreement that the Outer Banks does not have the transmission lines to handle that amount of power. A possible scenario would link the wind energy field with the Virginia Beach field 20 miles to the north. The Hampton Roads area already has a transmission network able to handle the energy load.