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Ridge protections could endanger wind power; Committee set to vote on rules today

Legislation to get consideration today would restrict wind turbines on ridge tops from being more than 35 feet tall, a cap opponents said would kill a budding industry. ...Ridge-top protections in North Carolina date back to 1983 when all 25 mountain counties adopted rules banning tall structures on ridges 3,000 feet or higher.

Legislation to get consideration today would restrict wind turbines on ridge tops from being more than 35 feet tall, a cap opponents said would kill a budding industry.

That would be too short to make generating electricity practical, said Dennis Scanlin, a professor of technology at Appalachian State University in Boone.

"All of our good winds are essentially on the ridge tops, and all our ridges are above 3,000 feet in elevation, or most are," Scanlin said.

Recent amendments to legislation that would have made the turbines and other equipment exempt from regulations keeping tall structures off ridge tops call for restricting their height to no more than 35 feet.

The 17-member Agriculture Environment and Natural Resources Committee plans to vote on legislation today. A positive recommendation would send the SB 1068 to the full Senate.

Ridge-top protections in North Carolina date back to 1983 when all 25 mountain counties adopted rules banning tall structures on ridges 3,000 feet or higher.

That came after a 10-story condominium complex went up on Sugar Mountain in Avery County, drawing the ire of many who said its hulking presence marred mountain views.

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Legislation to get consideration today would restrict wind turbines on ridge tops from being more than 35 feet tall, a cap opponents said would kill a budding industry.

That would be too short to make generating electricity practical, said Dennis Scanlin, a professor of technology at Appalachian State University in Boone.

"All of our good winds are essentially on the ridge tops, and all our ridges are above 3,000 feet in elevation, or most are," Scanlin said.

Recent amendments to legislation that would have made the turbines and other equipment exempt from regulations keeping tall structures off ridge tops call for restricting their height to no more than 35 feet.

The 17-member Agriculture Environment and Natural Resources Committee plans to vote on legislation today. A positive recommendation would send the SB 1068 to the full Senate.

Ridge-top protections in North Carolina date back to 1983 when all 25 mountain counties adopted rules banning tall structures on ridges 3,000 feet or higher.

That came after a 10-story condominium complex went up on Sugar Mountain in Avery County, drawing the ire of many who said its hulking presence marred mountain views.

Amendments to the legislation were made with that in mind, said Sen. Joe Sam Queen, D-Haywood.

Queen, who sits on the agriculture committee, said he supports wind power, but thinks there are places better suited for tall turbines, including the coast and the middle of the country.

"I think wind is going to be part of our state and nation's alternative energy scene," he said. "But I'm not for a wind policy that alters the mountain landscape. It is just too precious. We don't have to choose either or."

Changes in technology will soon make it more efficient to generate energy on the prairie and off the coast and get it to population centers, the senator said. The rules are intended to allow small, private wind-power devices, he said.

But even smaller private devices would need to be higher than 35 feet to be worth building, Scanlin said. The bill's initial language came after input from a variety of groups including the military and the Audubon Society, he said.

The American Wind Energy Association reported in January that the amount of electricity generated by wind turbines grew by 50 percent last year and 55 new manufacturing facilities were built to make turbine components. In Boone, ASU students funded the recent $533,000 installation of a 100-kilowatt wind turbine that is set to power the equivalent of 10-15 homes a year.


Source: http://www.citizen-times.co...

JUL 7 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/21012-ridge-protections-could-endanger-wind-power-committee-set-to-vote-on-rules-today
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