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Push for wind farms in Western North Carolina renewed, scaled back

Legislators declined this summer to clear the way for North Carolina to tap the power of mountain winds. Next year, they could decide whether to allow a single, experimental ridgetop wind farm. Rep. Phil Frye said at a Wednesday wind-energy forum that he plans to propose allowing the state to issue one permit for building rows of wind turbines on a ridge - which he hopes would happen at a site overlooking his hometown of Spruce Pine.

ASHEVILLE - Legislators declined this summer to clear the way for North Carolina to tap the power of mountain winds. Next year, they could decide whether to allow a single, experimental ridgetop wind farm.

Rep. Phil Frye said at a Wednesday wind-energy forum that he plans to propose allowing the state to issue one permit for building rows of wind turbines on a ridge - which he hopes would happen at a site overlooking his hometown of Spruce Pine.

Acciona Energy wants to build dozens of turbines on the Mitchell County site.

People could "see a true wind farm actually positioned and operating, and make up our own minds if we want to see more," said Frye, a Republican.

The forum at UNC Asheville became heated as the audience divided between supporters of harnessing wind energy in the region as a way to curb global warming, and those who say wind development would spoil mountain vistas.

They'll renew the debate at 6 p.m. today at Mayland Community College in Spruce Pine.

Any major wind operations would target ridges, where winds blow stronger than anywhere else in inland North Carolina, but where turbines could be seen for miles.

Senators blocked efforts by legislators like Frye to allow an... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

ASHEVILLE - Legislators declined this summer to clear the way for North Carolina to tap the power of mountain winds. Next year, they could decide whether to allow a single, experimental ridgetop wind farm.

Rep. Phil Frye said at a Wednesday wind-energy forum that he plans to propose allowing the state to issue one permit for building rows of wind turbines on a ridge - which he hopes would happen at a site overlooking his hometown of Spruce Pine.

Acciona Energy wants to build dozens of turbines on the Mitchell County site.

People could "see a true wind farm actually positioned and operating, and make up our own minds if we want to see more," said Frye, a Republican.

The forum at UNC Asheville became heated as the audience divided between supporters of harnessing wind energy in the region as a way to curb global warming, and those who say wind development would spoil mountain vistas.

They'll renew the debate at 6 p.m. today at Mayland Community College in Spruce Pine.

Any major wind operations would target ridges, where winds blow stronger than anywhere else in inland North Carolina, but where turbines could be seen for miles.

Senators blocked efforts by legislators like Frye to allow an unlimited number of wind-energy companies to apply for permits for ridgetop projects.

"We came to the conclusion in the Senate that it wasn't worth compromising the mountains of Western North Carolina, which we draw so much of our economy, our identity from," said Sen. Joe Sam Queen, a Waynesville Democrat.

Instead, senators voted 45-1 to ban commercial wind energy from ridges, limiting home windmills to a single unit no more than 100 feet tall. It's part of a bill that, if passed, would set up a statewide system of wind permits.

The House could take up the bill after legislators return to Raleigh in May. Frye said he would introduce his proposal as an amendment to the bill.
Queen said turbines in Spruce Pine would mar views in an area that includes peaks like Mount Mitchell.

Supporters said the region needs to cultivate renewable resources.

"We have some of the most superb wind resources in the United States here in Western North Carolina," said Dennis Scanlin, a technology professor at Appalachian State University.


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

NOV 12 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/23084-push-for-wind-farms-in-western-north-carolina-renewed-scaled-back
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