Kirkman pitches Radio Island development opportunity to Morehead City Council

The N.C. State Ports Authority’s facility on Radio Island could be used to support the nation’s offshore wind industry as a staging or manufacturing port for parts, according to one Carteret County official. (News-Times photo)

MOREHEAD CITY — Carteret County Economic Development Director Don Kirkman is making the rounds pitching officials on a potential development opportunity for Radio Island related to offshore wind energy he says could generate high-paying jobs and boost the local economy.

Mr. Kirkman appeared before the Morehead City Council Tuesday during a workshop meeting to share information about the nation’s burgeoning offshore wind industry and upcoming grant opportunities that could help kickstart development on Radio Island. He posed the opportunity, which could see Radio Island utilized as a staging or fabrication port for manufacturing parts used in offshore wind farms, as a “win-win-win-win” for Morehead City and surrounding areas.

“Offshore wind exploration is a high priority for this (presidential) administration and one that already we’re seeing significant funding associated with in the form of a grant program,” Mr. Kirkman said.

He was quick to add there are no current plans to develop a wind energy farm off Radio Island or anywhere else off the Crystal Coast, citing proximity to military bases and sensitive environmental areas as two key reasons it looks unlikely. There are, however, such plans in more than a dozen other locations along the east coast, and Mr. Kirkman said Radio Island could be well-positioned to supply manufacturing capabilities to those eventual facilities.

Because of the massive size of the parts involved in offshore wind farms – a turbine blade can clock in at more 300 feet in length – the pieces can only be transported by water, requiring they be manufactured and staged at deep-water ports. Mr. Kirkman said there are several options for a facility on Radio Island, including as a staging area for parts manufactured elsewhere and shipped to the U.S. or as a manufacturing port where the pieces are fabricated and shipped away.

The N.C. Department of Commerce released a report, Building North Carolina’s Offshore Wind Supply Chain, in March detailing a “roadmap for leveraging manufacturing and infrastructure advantages” related to offshore wind. The report specifically names Radio Island as a potential location for developing the state’s offshore wind manufacturing capabilities.

The N.C. State Port Authority currently owns about 200 acres of mostly undeveloped land on Radio Island, about 150 acres of which is set aside for future port development. The land is situated within the limits of Morehead City and is zoned for port-maritime use.

“Radio Island is uniquely positioned on the east coast of the United States for this type of project related to port development,” Mr. Kirkman said. “…The property is already publicly owned, it’s on deep water, there’s a minimal amount of dredging required, the infrastructure is all in place, including Morehead City water and sewer utilities, the zoning is in place.”

Despite the opportunity presented, Mr. Kirkman said Radio Island is far from being ready to support the industry as it’s still largely undeveloped. To that end, he hopes N.C. Ports applies for a federal grant announced by the U.S. Maritime Administration March 30 making $230 million available for ports to prepare for offshore wind development.

“Radio Island is literally years away from being ready, and we’ve got to start that process with master planning, engineering, looking at the design for the rail extensions and working with (the N.C. Department of Transportation) on the Newport River Bridge replacement and other highway infrastructure to position Radio Island to successfully compete,” he said. “…(The grant) is really a key first step, the grant application deadline is (Friday) July 30 so there’s a sense of urgency.”

In a followup email to the News-Times, Mr. Kirkman said he went before the Morehead City Council Tuesday not necessarily for permission to pursue the project, but to share information about it and hopefully garner some support from local leaders. The MARAD grant program doesn’t require letters of support, but he said N.C. Ports could request them for its application, if it materializes.

“I am confident that both the Town of Morehead City and Carteret County Board of Commissioners would enthusiastically support the grant application given the economic development, port and environmental benefits associated with the project and the growth of this clean, renewable energy sector,” he wrote. “As I noted during my presentation, the main port facility in downtown Morehead City is at full capacity, and the future growth of the Port of Morehead City will occur at Radio Island.  Without infrastructure, however, including bulkheads and berths for vessels, ships are unable to call on Radio Island for any port-related activity, including offshore wind energy.”

If the plan comes to fruition, depending on the scope of the facility, Mr. Kirkman estimates it could bring 500 to 1,000 new, high-paying jobs to Carteret County. 

 

Contact Elise Clouser at elise@thenewstimes.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.

(24) comments

DeadBolt

How about a dock for cruise lines, thereby boosting alot of local businesses, increasing temporary traffic, and possibly making this area one people could possibly depart from by boat, fairly reasonably. (its a seaport, not a FAILED HOT AIR FARM)

quicksand

We need to create another, separate local economy that is not based on tourism. Your idea is just another minimum wage idea that caters to tourists....

Crabpot

Or a 500 foot statue of Donald Trump at the entrance to Beaufort Inlet. Seems more appropriate.

Hatterascal

Exactly why would a cruise ship bother to dock here? Unfriendly natives, limited shopping and dining. Cold weather 7 months of the year. One and half roads in and out.

David Collins

Burgeoning offshore wind energy ? Where might that be ? Sounds like a ploy to wrangle some of Biden’s handlers shovel ready money , that has not seen the shovel yet and probably never will . In case you haven’t heard , there is a groundswell movement against these obtrusive , noisy and obnoxious devices . Surprisingly in the liberal states where the wealthy , well connected are succeeding in having them shut down and banned . Even California is halting their planned wind farms due to too much is too much . The developers are moving on to prey on other states . Who-dah-thunk that would be happening there of all places . Perhaps they know something we peons do not . No , better let this opportunity of a lifetime die on the vine but it is about money and Commissioners / money , you be the judge .

DeadBolt

@quicksand, you may or may not know this, allow me to point out whats actually been done in 3 decades. Used to be locals only around here. Then a few people started pushing the tourism agenda, and i think alot of people miss the actual show for the smoke and mirrors , which is RETIREMENT REAL ESTATE. <----i don't think the 2 terms are synonymous, but either way, the retirement business seemed to become the main meal. LAND CONTROL in the form of government rules started to overtake the locals only rules, and now you have a government gone wild, less locals, and no room, as in no more land for any type of development on the area of the county that people will tolerate for industry. hence the zoning hub bub recently on the hwy 24 debacle, etc. See, this AREA we call Carteret County was unique for SEAFOOD for more decades then anything these new idiots can think of, so they regulated it to DEATH, just to stop it, not to save a fish. I mean at some point, beyond 'greed' of wealth, you have to be truly evil to CONTINUE TO DEPRIVE local people of their heritage, knowing your doing it beyond GREED. Either way, the cruise thing is just an option, please feel free to lay out some ideas you have, because mine was simply keeping road traffic down, as in boats being the method by which the tourist gets here, as well as multiple service industries with goods these lines need. (and yea, a few jobs may or may not pop up, who knows.)

quicksand

I have been involved in the commercial fishing sector for decades. But tourism has been growing steadily since the ‘70’s and only within the last twenty years has there been an effort to curb it-remember The Circle? JungleLand? All to make this a retirement locale. Waiting on old people is the same as waiting on tourists! And these are not great paying jobs, we would be so much better to support an industry-whether it be manufacturing or wind farms/tidal farms.

And I also own a couple of acres near Beaufort-maybe I’ll just turn it into tiny homes, less than 400 sq.ft. but costing over $100K each. My $15K investment is gonna make me millions!

Speakeasy

Sorry Mr. Kirkman, but no matter how much what you said makes sense, you lost about 65% of the counties support when you said "Offshore wind exploration is a high priority for this (presidential) administration".

DeadBolt

Sorry to disappoint ya there, but, this would not matter to me. Wind is an all around ignorant idea for anything other then a sailboat. (where power is concerned)

Hatterascal

Sure, sure, I guess all those windmills up in Perquimmons and Pasquotank Counties and the Netherlands are just window dressing.

noitall

Better than exporting lung cancer to the entire world. How soon you all forget.

ITBEME

What a wonderful idea....NOT! Even though I no longer live on the Crystal Coast seeing it destroyed is just heartbreaking. What is not needed is another round of 'can I help you, sir or ma'am?' jobs. REAL JOBS for the people who live there not those who have house #2 or 3 and rent them out, though nothing wrong with that if you're lucky enough but people want to be employed year round with a living wage. After 60+ years in Carteret County I moved to the NC mountains and it's the same here - minimum wage jobs. Time to think about the people who make Carteret County what it is......a beautiful place - largely unspoiled.

drewski

Make no mistake, the boom is coming and coming quickly. I have 2 small parcels of land, and have gotten 7 letters from out of state investors in the last 2 months, offers to purchase. Everywhere you look new housing and new developments are going in. From Hibbs road west the build out is relentless..

A cruise terminal is unrealistic, will the passengers take a shuttle to fort Macon or abetting? Then what?

Getting those fed dollars that WILL BE spent whether here or elsewhere is just common sense. Despite what others have said wind farms are coming and a base for that infrastructure is a smart move. Having a wider employment base then hospitatality and service jobs is also just common sense.

noitall

Mr. Kirkman has posed, "Tthe opportunity, which could see Radio Island utilized as a staging or fabrication port for manufacturing parts used in offshore wind farms, as a “win-win-win-win” for Morehead City and surrounding areas."

Check Wikipedia wind Power UK and Denmark. Any development will require fairly rapid movement through the NC red tape process. THIS IS A TRULY VERY GOOD OPPORTUNITY BUT WILL DIE IF THE PROVINCIAL THINKING PREVAILS.

David Collins

All manufacturing has a dark side . The last place you want to put it is where that dark side can negatively affect a fragile Eco-system . Think about it .

noitall

aLL MFG HAS A DARK SIDE? FAIRLY BROAD ASSESSMENT AT THIS STAGE OF THE GAME

Sleepwalker

There had better be a vaccine to cure the awful allergic reaction to alarm clocks if there’s going to be any type of industry around here.

Hatterascal

Fishing looks good today. Work doesn't.

-Unofficial motto of Carteret County.

DeadBolt

ps.... advice for the PUBLIC SERVANTS, FIRE KIRKMAN, immediately, or continue to waste money on pay if the job has any.

David Collins

That is true sleepwalker . Not like there is much of a work ethic in these parts . The only way much gets done is when our visitors from south of the border do it .

noitall

If our brothers from the south could handle English and fractions, they might have a future anywhere. I do not employ anyone who cannot do fractions and speak English, The Sleepwalkers abound in our politics, few could do any manual labor..

saltaire

Good to read this subject has everyone’s attention. I nearly fell out of my chair reading this high minded notion from Mr. Kirkman is ‘pitching’. He certainly isn’t thinking about our fragile ecosystem. He is definitely pushing agenda from afar. Simply put, this is insulting.

Hatterascal

Oh heck no, Anything to do with wind farms is far to progressive for this lot. Now a coal transfer facility? Oh heck yeah, they would roll out the red carpet to build infrastructure for a failing industry.

In case you haven't noticed, the PAC fleet already comes loaded for bear with wind turbine parts each time they port in MHC. Why not take advantage of that?

Is it windmill cancer? Are you afraid of windmill cancer? Not to worry, Jack Daniels has been making a vaccine for that for over 140 years, and you don't even have to get a jab. Chances are you have a pint or two already.

JusticeForAll

Think of all the money that could be made if they could convince Jeff Bezos to moor his yachts there instead. The jobs created to cater to his needs would far exceed any other source of revenue.

Welcome to the discussion.

As a privately owned web site, we reserve the right to edit or remove comments that contain spam, advertising, vulgarity, threats of violence, racism, anti-Semitism, or personal/abusive/condescending attacks on other users or goading them. The same applies to trolling, the use of multiple aliases, or just generally being a jerk. Enforcement of this policy is at the sole discretion of the site administrators and repeat offenders may be blocked or permanently banned without warning.