Articles from North Carolina
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.
Hager, a former Duke Energy engineer beginning his second term in the House, argues the mandate unfairly forces utility customers to subsidize renewable energy, which costs more than traditional forms. He says that runs against state policy ordering utilities to provide “least cost” electricity.