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Lawmakers approve wind power ban

Senate lawmakers this afternoon brought the state a step closer to a total ban on commercial wind development on North Caorlina's mountain tops with an overwhelming vote in the Senate Finance Committee of the General Assembly. Panel members agreed to restrict wind power development to residential uses on towers limited to 100 feet tall. That restriction prohibits commercial wind farms, which link multiple turbines that can exceed 300 feet.

RALEIGH -- State lawmakers on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted to ban commercial wind development on North Carolina's mountains.

The Senate Finance Committee agreed to limit wind power to allowing homeowners to install small turbines on towers no taller than 100 feet. The full Senate could take up the measure as early as this week. The House also will review the proposal.

Tuesday's vote is a setback for wind power advocates who dream of turning the state's mountain ranges into commercial wind farms, which link a fleet of turbines that can exceed 300 feet.

Banning commercial wind power development in the western part of the state would prevent harnessing energy capacity equivalent to a midsize nuclear power plant.

But one of the lawmakers pushing the ban, Sen. Martin Nesbitt Jr., a Democrat of Buncombe County, said industrial-scale wind turbines would destroy pristine views and mar the landscape.

"You're not going to plop them down along our ridge lines and destroy everything we have up there," he told lawmakers before Tuesday's vote.

"Some of these things are as tall as the Bank of America in Charlotte," Nesbitt said. "If anyone wants to bring in a whole fleet, we will have a holy war."

The vote... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

RALEIGH -- State lawmakers on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted to ban commercial wind development on North Carolina's mountains.

The Senate Finance Committee agreed to limit wind power to allowing homeowners to install small turbines on towers no taller than 100 feet. The full Senate could take up the measure as early as this week. The House also will review the proposal.

Tuesday's vote is a setback for wind power advocates who dream of turning the state's mountain ranges into commercial wind farms, which link a fleet of turbines that can exceed 300 feet.

Banning commercial wind power development in the western part of the state would prevent harnessing energy capacity equivalent to a midsize nuclear power plant.

But one of the lawmakers pushing the ban, Sen. Martin Nesbitt Jr., a Democrat of Buncombe County, said industrial-scale wind turbines would destroy pristine views and mar the landscape.

"You're not going to plop them down along our ridge lines and destroy everything we have up there," he told lawmakers before Tuesday's vote.

"Some of these things are as tall as the Bank of America in Charlotte," Nesbitt said. "If anyone wants to bring in a whole fleet, we will have a holy war."

The vote Tuesday afternoon clarified the 1983 Mountain Ridge Protection Act, which bans tall structures along mountain ridges but exempts steeples, flagpoles, antennas and windmills. Wind power advocates have argued that windmills include commercial wind turbines, but lawmakers said a windmill is a small device intended for private use.

North Carolina's tallest mountains have among the best wind energy resources in the nation, with average annual speeds as high as 25 mph. Wind resources on the coast and offshore average 15 mph to 20 mph, while wind speeds in Raleigh average about 9 mph and are considered inadequate for commercial development.

Sen. Joe Sam Queen said the proper place for commercial wind development is on the coast, offshore and in the Midwest.

"Let wind be developed elsewhere while we protect the mountains," said Queen, a Democrat who represents Avery, Haywood, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell and Yancey counties.


Source: http://www.newsobserver.com...

JUL 14 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/21174-lawmakers-approve-wind-power-ban
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