HERTFORD, N.C. -- Perquimans County commissioners have declared a four-month moratorium on wind farms after residents opposed a project in which 60-story-tall turbines would dominate the rural vista.
Apex Clean Energy of Charlottesville proposes to build 100 to 150 turbines on 15,000 acres straddling Perquimans and Chowan counties. The $300 million, 300-megawatt project known as Timbermill Wind could power 65,000 homes annually.
"When these things come in, it will end the beauty," resident and farmer Tommy Harrell said Friday. "I'll have 600-feet-tall turbines on three sides of my house."
Perquimans County residents are feeling pinched by wind farms, he said.
Iberdrola is building a similar project on 22,000 acres about 10 miles away on the other side of the county straddling the border with Pasquotank County. It will be the largest wind farm in the southeastern United States. Amazon plans to buy the power.
The county planning department will consider changes to the wind energy ordinance until the moratorium ends Feb. 2.
Residents want a buffer of at least a mile, Harrell said. The current setback is about a quarter mile. They also want money paid by the company set aside in case the project fails and the wind turbines must be removed, he said.
The wind farm would create about 150 jobs during construction and 10 permanent jobs, according to an Apex website. Construction could begin by next year, but the company has not yet applied to the county for permits to build, Perquimans County Manager Frank Heath said.
North Carolina requires utilities to produce at least 12.5 percent of their electrical power with renewable energy sources by 2021.
Iberdrola will pay more than 60 local landowners lease payments totaling $624,000 in the first year. Together, the counties will receive $520,000 annually in taxes. It is not certain how much Apex Clean Energy would pay. Weyerhaeuser, a forest products company, is one of the largest landowners in that project.
Harrell and other critics contend that wind energy is inefficient and depends on conventional power sources to operate. The spinning turbines pose a threat to bats, birds and military aircraft, Harrell said.