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Tybee gears up for offshore wind

"So many people I think are apprehensive about wind turbines because there's been a lot of negative press about avian mortality and about how it's not a consistent energy generator," said Paul Wolff, a Tybee council member. "I want people to come and ask questions.

As Georgia moves closer to harvesting its offshore wind for energy, researchers and wind proponents want coastal residents to learn more about this resource.

The Georgia Wind Working Group is sponsoring a forum Thursday evening on Tybee during which representatives from Georgia Tech, the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority and a British offshore wind industry expert will update the opportunities and challenges of offshore wind.

"So many people I think are apprehensive about wind turbines because there's been a lot of negative press about avian mortality and about how it's not a consistent energy generator," said Paul Wolff, a Tybee council member. "I want people to come and ask questions of those who are very knowledgeable of the subject both from a scientific and environmental perspective."

Wolff is a steering committee member of the Georgia Wind Working Group, a five-year-old alliance representing utility companies, wind developers, government agencies, universities, and other interested stakeholders.

Georgia's offshore wind was long considered inadequate for power production, but Georgia Tech researchers debunked that idea in 2005 with previously overlooked data collected by the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

As Georgia moves closer to harvesting its offshore wind for energy, researchers and wind proponents want coastal residents to learn more about this resource.

The Georgia Wind Working Group is sponsoring a forum Thursday evening on Tybee during which representatives from Georgia Tech, the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority and a British offshore wind industry expert will update the opportunities and challenges of offshore wind.

"So many people I think are apprehensive about wind turbines because there's been a lot of negative press about avian mortality and about how it's not a consistent energy generator," said Paul Wolff, a Tybee council member. "I want people to come and ask questions of those who are very knowledgeable of the subject both from a scientific and environmental perspective."

Wolff is a steering committee member of the Georgia Wind Working Group, a five-year-old alliance representing utility companies, wind developers, government agencies, universities, and other interested stakeholders.

Georgia's offshore wind was long considered inadequate for power production, but Georgia Tech researchers debunked that idea in 2005 with previously overlooked data collected by the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography.

A 2007 report by Southern Company and Georgia Tech concluded that "Coastal Georgia waters include large areas with good wind resources in shallow water that have the potential for wind farm development. Also, much of the coastline includes undeveloped areas with close proximity to potential landfall sites for transmission grid access."

Since then, Southern Company has begun the leasing application process with the federal government. If a lease is assigned it would allow Southern to conduct site specific research on the most promising areas for siting the turbines, said Valerie Hendrickson, a Southern Company spokeswoman.

Tybee remains front and center in the Georgia offshore wind picture.

"The best resource is 10.2 nautical miles, roughly 12 statute miles southeast of Tybee," Wolff said. "It would be far enough over the horizon that you wouldn't see anything but blade tips. On a hazy day you couldn't see it at all."

Tapping into this renewable resource is taking longer in Georgia than many advocates would like. But Mary Hallisey Hunt, one of Thursday's speakers, is certain it will become a reality.

"It's not a question of if, it's a question of when," said Hunt, director of special projects with the Strategic Energy Institute at Georgia Tech.

At the Tybee forum, she'll provide cost data on wind energy plus information about a new mapping tool that should allow smarter ocean planning by layering existing uses, such as shipping lanes and right whale calving grounds on one computerized map.

Hunt, whose expertise is in renewable energy policy, said Georgia is well positioned to reap benefits from wind before turbines are ever installed offshore. South Carolina is already doing so with a $100 million turbine drive train test facility that broke ground about a month ago in North Charleston. The Coastal Georgia area could also support the manufacturing and assembly of offshore wind turbines, processes that would generate jobs and economic development.

"To install these you need to be a good deepwater port and have large staging areas next to the ports," she said.

"Georgia has that."

If you go

What: Public forum about the potential for wind farming off Tybee.
When: 6:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday for informal meet and greet the experts; 7-8:30 p.m. forum
Where: Tybee Island City Hall, 403 Butler Ave.
Why: The Georgia Wind Working Group invites local residents, businesses and officials to bring questions, support, or concerns on wind energy to this free event. For event details, go to gawwg.org


Source: http://savannahnow.com/news...

DEC 1 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/29114-tybee-gears-up-for-offshore-wind
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