Library from North Carolina
A Raleigh couple whose proposal to construct a windmill farm in Down East Carteret County has drawn recent controversy say the moratorium the county has now put in place for wind turbines and other towers was the first indication they had from the county of its concerns. The Carteret County Board of Commissioners approved a nine-month moratorium this week on the permitting of electricity-generating wind turbines, towers and other tall structures while the county staff devises regulations for their use in the county. ..."Maybe we would have (expressed concern) if we had any idea they were talking about structures nearly 500 feet in the middle of a residential community," Langdon said. And it's only been since the Pauls went to the Utilities Commission that the community has reviewed the plans and voiced its concerns.
Too often the energy companies have allowed claims about renewable energy to go unchallenged. Experience shows that once the public learns about the effects, those expectations fall back to Earth. Just look at wind power in North Carolina, if you can. Wind farms haven't gotten off the ground here because, thus far, North Carolinians have objected to looking at a wind turbine larger than a hamster wheel. On Monday, Carteret County decreed a nine-month moratorium on wind turbines, after residents complained about potential noise, vibration, harm to wildlife, visual blight and a host of other concerns. Who knew wind turbines were as dangerous as a Navy outlying landing field?
Carteret County commissioners adopted a moratorium Monday on issuing permits to build windmills. The action followed a public hearing in which an impassioned and overflow crowd mostly agreed the county needs more information. A total of 17 signed up to speak for and against the concept of wind energy in a hurricane-prone county. They focused specifically on the location and plans for the proposed Golden Wind Farm near the community of Bettie. That proposal is now before the N.C. Utilities Commission. The moratorium passed unanimously and will allow the county nine months to study wind-energy technology and its use and regulation nationally and in coastal areas.
Though most people agree that North Carolina needs to develop cleaner energy sources, the enthusiasm apparently ends at the backyard. Carteret County residents turned out at a public hearing Monday night to raise questions about the prospect of living near wind turbines that would dwarf the Cape Lookout lighthouse and stand taller than the Wachovia building in downtown Raleigh. After hearing residents' concerns about the proposal to build a commercial-scale wind farm in coastal Carteret, county commissioners passed a nine-month moratorium on issuing permits for wind turbines.
The same areas along the North Carolina coast recognized for the winds that can generate power are also prone to hurricane-force winds that generate a force of their own. That's a concern for Carteret County resident Stephanie Miscovich, who lives near the site of a proposed wind energy project that would put three wind turbines in the Down East community of Bettie. "We're known for our winds but we're also known for our extreme winds, and we need to take note of that," she said. Plans for the Golden Wind Farm project now before the N.C. Utilities Commission call for three windmills below 500 feet when measured from sea level to the highest reach of the blades.
Progress Energy's customer surveys, presented at a conference for Wall Street analysts that the company hosted in Florida, show how far public opinion has swung in this state on combating climate change. Progress Energy, which has 3.1 million customers in the Carolinas and Florida, said public opinion virtually eliminated coal plants as an option. ..."It's important to know where customers stand, because policymakers are going to be responding to public opinion," John McArthur, the company's general counsel and senior vice president, told the analysts. ...Now Progress officials say they have a new challenge: The public may be overly optimistic about the potential for renewable energy. Though environmental advocates have said alternative energy is cheaper than building power plants, Progress executives said renewables are costly and not as dependable as power plants. "The public has unrealistic expectations about renewables," McArthur said. "They think it's twice as important as reliability."
Insurance issues are an area of major concern. In 2007 our state insurance commissioners granted a 25% increase in rates in coastal areas covering "wind and hail coverage." This coverage is no longer included as a part of our homeowner's insurance coverage or premium. This clearly states coastal North Carolina is a "hazardous wind area" that has evidently cost insurance companies more money for repairs and clean up than they liked at prior rates, thereby reducing profits. If "wind" is a problem for insurance companies, like a nor'easter, what will it be with "unregulated" industrial wind turbine farms? This would be an accident waiting to happen and we're the ones that will "again pay the ultimate price."
Near the town of Bettie in Carteret County, the Pauls plan to build a wind farm of three turbines that would generate enough power for about 900 homes, or about 4.5 megawatts. The 464-foot-high windmills would begin generating power in 2010. "This project, as small as it is, is 90 times larger than the largest wind generation facility currently operating in North Carolina," Nelson Paul wrote in an e-mail. Before the project can begin, the North Carolina Utilities Commission must approve the project and the couple must withstand opposition from neighbors who worry that the turbines will ruin the scenery, Paul said.
A year ago, the fight over wind power in North Carolina was centered on the high-country ridges of Ashe County. A rematch this year looks to be taking place on the opposite end of the state, in coastal Carteret County. The mountains-and-coast connection is no accident. Those two regions, 300 or more miles apart, harbor the state's highest wind energy potential -- and some of the best scenery. One of the chief arguments of wind power critics is that the three-bladed electricity-generating turbines so disrupt the view that they drive away tourists and lower property values.
The Board of Commissioners has set a public hearing for 6 p.m. March 3 to receive public comments on the "possibility of imposing a moratorium for any approvals for the construction or erection of towers, electric generating windmills, and similar type of tall structures in Carteret County so the impacts can be studied and any needed regulations can be adopted." There are no specific criteria in county ordinances that apply to windmills or other similar structures, and Davis said that leaves the Bettie community east of Beaufort vulnerable to potential noise, height, safety and other concerns from the proposed windmill turbines. While detailed final plans have not been developed, initial proposals include three windmills as tall as 340 feet with a blade diameter of about 271 feet. ...Commissioner Jonathan Robinson said he doesn't have a problem with developing renewable energy sources, but the county should also look at what impacts may be involved and where windmills, towers and other tall structures should be.
Though most support the need for cleaner energy, neighbors in Bettie, a rural community about seven miles northeast of Beaufort, objected to the project. They contend that the towering wind turbines would be noisy and unattractive, and would spoil the enjoyment of their property. The turbines, including the blades, could stand up to 464 feet high -- more than twice the height of the Cape Lookout lighthouse, the familiar sentinel on the Outer Banks, and taller even than the 30-story Wachovia Capitol Center in downtown Raleigh. "You're going to be able to see it from Beaufort and Morehead City," said Brady Golden, who lives across from the property. "Highway 70 is a scenic highway. There are a lot of questions the people of Bettie have."
A couple looking to build three electricity-generating wind turbines in rural North Carolina is facing opposition from neighbors who say the towering windmills will create noise and disrupt the aesthetic scenery of their coastal community. Nelson and Dianna Paul, who live in Raleigh, have asked the North Carolina Utilities Commission for permission to build the Golden Wind Farm on a 33-acre tract of open land in Bettie, a town about seven miles northeast of Beaufort. If successful, it would be the largest wind farm in the state. ...Representatives of the North Carolina Public Staff, which advocates for the public before the commission, recommended the panel grant a permit if the FAA approves the project. The commission is expected to issue a decision in the next several months.
A Raleigh couple, Nelson and Dianna Paul, are seeking permission from the Public Utilities Commission to build North Carolina's first large-scale wind mills on coastal property they own. ...The utilities commission did not vote on the proposal today, and may not take action for a couple of months. Many residents of the coastal community of Bettie, where the Pauls own property, oppose the windmills, which would stand nearly 500 feet tall.
It was a minor demonstration of the 50-kilowatt wind turbine, but over the next year it is expected to produce about 110,000 kilowatt hours - enough to power 10 homes - and save Blackwater around $10,000, Vogel said. If this turbine, erected last month at a cost of $180,000, contributes enough to the electricity needs of the 70,000-square-foot Grizzly plant, then Blackwater could put up more turbines and add credence to the forecast that North Carolina coastal counties can effectively use wind power. "We're in a wait-and-see mode on future installations," Vogel said. The rest of the state is looking at the Blackwater turbine, said Brent Summerville, outreach and training programs manager for the North Carolina Small Wind Initiative at Appalachian State University. "Everything that is installed is going to get scrutiny," Summerville said. "Projects like this
Fears of spoiled views and banged-up birds have led to years of appeals and at least one outright ban of wind turbines in some places. A different story has played out in Currituck County over the past five months, leading to one of the first countywide wind energy ordinances in North Carolina. Approved unanimously by the Board of Commissioners Tuesday night, the ordinance makes erecting a single wind turbine up to 120 feet tall a relatively easy process. Larger projects would require commissioner approval, and in some cases a public hearing and environmental impact study.
Currituck commissioners tonight will consider a new ordinance that could pave the way for the installation of electricity-generating wind turbines throughout the county. Commissioners are being asked to consider two proposals that would allow residents and business owners the ability to generate their own electricity. One, recommended by county staffers and the Currituck Planning Commission, requires the applicant to receive a special-use permit to install a wind turbine. Under the proposal, wind turbines would be subject to setback, design and height restrictions. The other proposal, put forward by East Coast Windpower, a company that wants to install wind turbines, would allow turbines in all zoning districts without a special use permit, but restrict their height to 60 feet. ...The setback between a turbine and U.S. Highway 158, N.C. Highway 168, and N.C. Highway 12 would have to be 750 feet. A utility-scale facility would have to have a minimum lot size of 25 acres, and the turbine could be no taller than 500 feet. The setback between occupied building and the turbine would have to be 750 feet.
Currituck's strong coastal winds are quickly turning the county into a magnet for companies hoping to sell electricity-generating wind turbines. Several companies have expressed interest in selling wind turbines in Currituck, including one headquartered in Spain and another from Maryland. ...The only holdup to the use of wind power in Currituck right now is the lack of a county ordinance controlling turbines' placement, installation and use. "The only thing even close our ordinance allows is windmills," Woody said, adding that the devices are generally only up to 35 feet in height and used to move water or crush rock.
A year after a bitter congressional fight over offshore drilling for oil and gas, the Bush administration wants to tap North Carolina's winds, waves and currents as a source for alternative energy. The plans could mean that within a few years, towering wind turbines could spin off North Carolina's Outer Banks to harness the gusts that have tossed ships there for centuries. U.S. Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne said Monday that the 1.8 billion acres of the federal Outer Continental Shelf could become "a new frontier" for the nation's energy resources.
Coastal breezes and a new state law are attracting the first plans for tall wind turbines in northeastern North Carolina, but success depends on their effect on coastal views. ...Maps show the coast is a good place to generate wind-powered energy, but opponents say tall turbines could spoil coastal scenery and weaken tourism. In June, the western North Carolina resort town of Blowing Rock banned wind turbines over concerns that the towers would clutter mountain views. But a new North Carolina law requires utility companies to buy 10 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2018.
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