Those who want America to turn to alternative energy might ponder that "Everyone from the U.S. Energy Information Agency to the U.N." agrees," says the Journal, "that fossil fuels will still account for as much as 80% of the world energy needs through 2030, even with efficient gains and major growth in alternatives." ...Writing in The Weekly Standard on alternative energy, William Tucker says "those 30-story windmills " like the three proposed for Bettie" "produce 1½ megawatts apiece" about 1/750th the power of a conventional generating station. Getting 1,000 megawatts would require a wind farm of 75 miles square." He adds wind, hydro and all the "alternate" sources of energy are dubbed "green" because they are supposedly clean, renewable and sustainable, but in fact what being "green" really mean is they all require vast amounts of land.
Too often the energy companies have allowed claims about renewable energy to go unchallenged. Experience shows that once the public learns about the effects, those expectations fall back to Earth. Just look at wind power in North Carolina, if you can. Wind farms haven't gotten off the ground here because, thus far, North Carolinians have objected to looking at a wind turbine larger than a hamster wheel. On Monday, Carteret County decreed a nine-month moratorium on wind turbines, after residents complained about potential noise, vibration, harm to wildlife, visual blight and a host of other concerns. Who knew wind turbines were as dangerous as a Navy outlying landing field?
Insurance issues are an area of major concern. In 2007 our state insurance commissioners granted a 25% increase in rates in coastal areas covering "wind and hail coverage." This coverage is no longer included as a part of our homeowner's insurance coverage or premium. This clearly states coastal North Carolina is a "hazardous wind area" that has evidently cost insurance companies more money for repairs and clean up than they liked at prior rates, thereby reducing profits. If "wind" is a problem for insurance companies, like a nor'easter, what will it be with "unregulated" industrial wind turbine farms? This would be an accident waiting to happen and we're the ones that will "again pay the ultimate price."
A year ago, the fight over wind power in North Carolina was centered on the high-country ridges of Ashe County. A rematch this year looks to be taking place on the opposite end of the state, in coastal Carteret County.
The mountains-and-coast connection is no accident. Those two regions, 300 or more miles apart, harbor the state's highest wind energy potential -- and some of the best scenery. One of the chief arguments of wind power critics is that the three-bladed electricity-generating turbines so disrupt the view that they drive away tourists and lower property values.
RALEIGH - It's hard to run a business when nobody wants to buy what you're selling. Some businesses have found a way around this obstacle: Get the government on your side.
This is the reality in the renewable energy industry, where excessively high prices keep the industry from being competitive. North Carolina has a voluntary program, called NC GreenPower, which allows the public to voluntarily support renewable energy. The participation rate has been dismal. Renewable energy sold through the program accounts for only about .01 percent of all electricity sold in the state.
The state Senate passed Senate Bill 3 since North Carolinians won't voluntarily support renewable energy. Apparently, the state Senate thinks people must be forced to support renewable energy against their will.
RALEIGH - Are you willing to pay higher electricity rates to support renewable energy? If so, you're one of only about 10,000 people in North Carolina who is.
That's because the well-publicized N.C. Green Power program has given state residents an ample opportunity to buy power derived from sources such as solar, wind and hog waste. Yet only 10,000 have signed up, or about .01 percent of the population. As a referendum on renewable energy, N.C. Green Power is a pretty clear indication North Carolinians aren't interested.
Yet legislators are gearing up to force people to buy energy from renewable sources ($10 per month worth, phased in to as much as $30 per month later). So in what has become business-as-usual, the General Assembly is set to introduce yet another hidden tax that, if passed, will mandate that 8-plus million of us buy what we have elected not to buy -- expensive energy with negligible environmental benefits.
Development should certainly be regulated on mountain slopes and ridges, as governments in Northwest North Carolina have finally started to do in the last few years....Few people want huge, sprawling farms of towering windmills. Regulations, including countywide zoning, are needed to make sure that doesn't happen. Neighboring Ashe County faces serious challenges in dealing with a proposed industrial-scale windmill farm in large part because it lacks a comprehensive land-use plan. Ashe did approve an ordinance a few months ago that would govern wind-energy systems such as windmill farms, but that may have been too late.
Regarding your article “Ashe board approves ordinance … ” (Feb. 20), the Ashe County commissioners should be commended for leading our state in developing a local ordinance that protects their mountain resources and all their citizens. While recognizing the need for the development of alternative energy sources, Ashe County has made its position clear that development of 400-foot-high wind turbines on mountain ridges is not acceptable.
Wind power would seem to be a necessary component of any strategy by North Carolina to increase the amount of energy produced here from alternative sources. Put simply, there’s plenty of wind in these parts.
The downside is that sections of the state where wind currents are strongest and most consistent also happen to be ones that are heavily dependent on tourism and where there is an understandable priority on protecting natural views. That holds for the coast, and it holds for the mountains.
The issue of whether and how to take advantage of mountain winds now is before the state Utilities Commission. The commission yesterday held a hearing focused on a proposed Ashe County “wind farm” — 25 or so giant turbines that would be built near Creston in the state’s far northwest. It is easy to see why the project has stirred local opposition in an area where vacation-home development is an economic mainstay.
In short, an ugly fight is looming. On one level, it’s a fight between progressives who stress conservation of scenic views against progressives who stress alternative sources of energy.
And it’s a fight that could have been avoided.
Ashe County commissioners should finally get the message that they need a comprehensive land-use plan, one designed to meet the challenges posed by plans for windmill farms and many other kinds of development. There’s considerable citizen resistance to such a plan. But commissioners need to lead on this issue and take control of their county’s future.
Regarding Rick Martinez's Feb. 3 column about ridgetop windmills, my opposition to the proposed facility in Ashe County is not about "pretty power" -- it is about preserving our Blue Ridge landscape.
What is proposed in Ashe County are 28 turbines standing 365 high, each approximately three times the height of the 10-story Sugartop condominium building in Avery County. It was this building that united landowners, environmentalists and politicians to press for passage of North Carolina's Mountain Ridge Protection Act of 1983.
An important variable is how much power can be generated using alternative forms of energy such as solar and wind, and other sources that are either renewable or cheaply available. North Carolinians need an independent evaluation of the potential of these energy alternatives. The good news is that state utility regulators have commissioned one.
And, while I agree with Mr. Shutkin that wind power, as a source of clean and renewable energy, should and will play a role in our future energy portfolio, its role will necessarily be small because of its fundamental limitation as an energy source: wind power is ‘intermittent’, i.e. it provides energy only when the wind blows, and, as such, wind power is a source of supplemental, not ‘base load’ energy.