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Lawmakers aim to protect scenery with windmill limits

A proposed change to North Carolina's ridge protection law unveiled Tuesday would prevent large-scale wind energy production in the mountains. At the urging of some mountain senators, the state Senate Finance Committee added the restrictions to a bill moving through the General Assembly that will shape where windmills are allowed to be built statewide.

RALEIGH - A proposed change to North Carolina's ridge protection law unveiled Tuesday would prevent large-scale wind energy production in the mountains.

At the urging of some mountain senators, the state Senate Finance Committee added the restrictions to a bill moving through the General Assembly that will shape where windmills are allowed to be built statewide.

Wind-energy advocates say the change will cripple efforts to harness the power of gusts along peaks.

"It's horrible. They just banned wind," as a source of energy in the mountains, said Crystal Simmons, a Newland resident and Appalachian State University student who manages a project that has erected a 150-foot windmill on campus.

But WNC Democrats like Sens. Martin Nesbitt, of Asheville, and Joe Sam Queen, of Waynesville, argue rows of windmills jutting hundreds of feet above ridges would devastate views.

"It's not just the tourist trade," Nesbitt said. "It's our whole culture."

The measure would allow only small windmills whose primary purpose is to generate electricity for use within a home.

Simmons and other advocates said the proposal might also keep homes from selling their... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

RALEIGH - A proposed change to North Carolina's ridge protection law unveiled Tuesday would prevent large-scale wind energy production in the mountains.

At the urging of some mountain senators, the state Senate Finance Committee added the restrictions to a bill moving through the General Assembly that will shape where windmills are allowed to be built statewide.

Wind-energy advocates say the change will cripple efforts to harness the power of gusts along peaks.

"It's horrible. They just banned wind," as a source of energy in the mountains, said Crystal Simmons, a Newland resident and Appalachian State University student who manages a project that has erected a 150-foot windmill on campus.

But WNC Democrats like Sens. Martin Nesbitt, of Asheville, and Joe Sam Queen, of Waynesville, argue rows of windmills jutting hundreds of feet above ridges would devastate views.

"It's not just the tourist trade," Nesbitt said. "It's our whole culture."

The measure would allow only small windmills whose primary purpose is to generate electricity for use within a home.

Simmons and other advocates said the proposal might also keep homes from selling their wind-generated electricity to their power company. Nesbitt said such sales would be allowed, with limitations.

The 1983 ridge law that restricts development on mountain crests exempts windmills, but state officials have interpreted the law to ban large turbines.

The wind measure as originally designed would have allowed development of large-scale wind-energy operations, such as one that officials say Acciona Energy wants to build on a ridge above Spruce Pine.

Spruce Pine Mayor Ralph Hise said such a project would help Mitchell County reduce its 14 percent unemployment rate, and criticized legislators for reversing course.

The Finance Committee overwhelmingly endorsed the measure, sending it to the Senate. It would also have to win approval from the House and Gov. Bev Perdue to become law.

Nesbitt said the restrictions fit with the intent of the 1983 ridge law.

"The members of the General Assembly all came together," he said, "and said, ‘We've got to stop this madness of destroying the tops of our mountains.'"


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

JUL 15 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/21191-lawmakers-aim-to-protect-scenery-with-windmill-limits
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