Library from North Carolina
Ashe County commissioners announced yesterday a special meeting to consider a proposed ordinance regulating wind-energy generation. The meeting was called after last week’s public hearing before the N.C. Utilities Commission drew an overflow crowd to talk about a proposed wind farm in Ashe County. Two brothers who own the land have applied to build the state’s first large-scale wind farm. It would include 25 to 28 windmills, each about 300 feet tall on or near Big Springs Mountain. The proposal has drawn strong debate. Supporters said during the hearing that alternative energy sources are vital and the project could help farmers preserve their land against housing development. Opponents said that the wind farm is too large and would ruin views and harm the tourist industry and property values.
Several hundred people packed an Ashe County courtroom last night to share passionate opinions about a proposed wind farm of 25 to 28 windmills at sites on or near Big Springs Mountain in Creston. Last night’s hearing before a member of the N.C. Utilities Commission is part of the commission’s decision-making process in approving or denying the project. In July, Richard Calhoun, a resident of Ashe County, filed an application with the utilities commission to build the wind farm, which would generate electricity that would be sold to power companies. Each windmill would be about 300 feet tall. Development costs are estimated to be $60million to $65 million, according to the application.
Edison Mission Group and a private Pennsylvania-based wind farm developer said they have agreed to develop up to 1,000 megawatts of mostly onshore wind energy throughout the U.S. mid-Atlantic. Edison Mission, which manages the power business of Edison International, made the agreement with US Wind Force LLC to develop wind farms over the next several years that would feed PJM power grid that includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia and parts of North Carolina.
A local farmer and former county commissioner Richard Calhoun of Northwest Wind Developers, LLC is proposing a wind farm of 25-28 wind turbines in Creston to make electricity. Anyone interested in letting their voice be heard on this issue can attend a hearing for the purpose of receiving public comments on Thursday, Jan. 25th at 7 p.m. in the small courtroom of the Ashe County Courthouse in Jefferson. This hearing will be held by the North Carolina Utilities Commission and it will then later reconvene for the purpose of receiving additional public witness testimony and expert witness testimony from the parties on Feb. 13th at 9:30 a.m. in Commission Hearing 2115 in Raleigh.
North Carolina has significant potential to develop wind and other alternative energy without drastically increasing customer bills, a study prepared for the N.C. Utilities Commission says. The report, presented this morning to state lawmakers, concluded that renewable energy could provide as much as 1,800 megawatts of power, the equivalent of two power plants the size of Progress Energy’s Shearon Harris nuclear plant in Wake County. The study comes at a time that Progress Energy and Duke Energy are planning to build nuclear plants and Duke Energy is also planning to build coal-fired power plants. Requiring utilities to use renewables would offset the need to build some power plants, the study concludes, reducing pollutants, greenhouse gases and radioactive nuclear waste.
Under direction from the state Environmental Review Commission, the N.C. Utilities Commission sponsored a study to analyze the costs and benefits of a Renewable Portfolio Standard. If adopted by the legislature, an RPS would require the state’s three investor-owned utilities to generate a portion of their electricity from renewable sources by a given date. The Utilities Commission paid $150,000 to Boston-based contractor La Capra to conduct the study, which is due out this week.
As a 24-foot rotor nosed into the breeze over Crabtree Valley, wind power officially flowed to North Carolina’s electric grid Tuesday. Dr. Louis Mes’ mountain-top turbine became the first wind producer to join N.C. GreenPower, a statewide program that buys electricity made from renewable energy sources such as the sun. The turbine, capable of powering the Louisiana plastic surgeon’s second home but little more, shows both the potential and the headaches of harnessing the N.C. winds.
A local farmers' advocacy group told Ashe County commissioners yesterday that the county should allow windmills to generate electricity that could be sold as an alternative income for farmers. The recommendation came a month after Watauga County became the first county in North Carolina to adopt regulations for windmills. Extension agent Charles Young, a spokesman for the county's Agriculture Advisory Committee, told Ashe commissioners that it's in the county's best interest to gain support and recognition for wind power as a way to preserve farmland.
The turbines will be located behind the Park's Visitors Center and the maintenance building. According to Barnes, energy produced from the turbines will provide power to the Park restrooms.
A wind farm of 25 to 28 windmills generating electricity to be sold to power companies is being proposed in western Ashe County, according to an order from the N.C. Utilities Commission on Tuesday that requires the public to be alerted about the proposal.
Watauga County became yesterday the first county in North Carolina to adopt an ordinance regulating wind-energy systems. The board of commissioners established rules by which the county planning staff may approve single windmills that generate electricity for on-site use. A more comprehensive process with review by the planning board would be required for commercial wind farms.
Many forms of green power face opposition, not just wind towers. A N.C. Green Power commission faced a major split over methane energy captured from hog farm waste. Hog farm lagoons are a major source of water quality pollution in eastern North Carolina. Some on the committee did not think methane by-products from these hog farm lagoons should qualify as “green energy,” leading some to resign from the Green Power committee. Other oppose hydropower, which dams up free flowing rivers.
If Richard Calhoun gets his wish, Big Springs Mountain would sprout two dozen wind turbines rising nearly 300 feet into the sky in one of the windiest pieces of real estate in the state.
Planning director Joe Furman said the proposed ordinance would make it relatively easy for people to receive permits for small systems for on-site use of the generated electricity. Larger commercial systems, designed to sell electricity off-site, were faced with “serious environmental and aesthetic considerations.”
The Watauga County Planning Board ventured into new territory in recommending an ordinance to regulate windmills during last Monday’s meeting.
Wilmington facility to consolidate engineers, technicians
Draft is headed for Watauga commissioners
An important variable is how much power can be generated using alternative forms of energy such as solar and wind, and other sources that are either renewable or cheaply available. North Carolinians need an independent evaluation of the potential of these energy alternatives. The good news is that state utility regulators have commissioned one.
Supporters of sustainable energy are supporting a county ordinance that would allow for development of windmills while keeping true to the intent of a state law that limits development on ridge tops.
And, while I agree with Mr. Shutkin that wind power, as a source of clean and renewable energy, should and will play a role in our future energy portfolio, its role will necessarily be small because of its fundamental limitation as an energy source: wind power is ‘intermittent’, i.e. it provides energy only when the wind blows, and, as such, wind power is a source of supplemental, not ‘base load’ energy.