Library filed under Energy Policy from North Carolina
As North Carolina lawmakers gather in Raleigh this week for an unusual lame duck session, clean energy advocates are bracing for a potential showdown over wind energy. A controversial ban on new wind farms is supposed to end Jan. 1, but observers fear the ban’s author, state Sen. Harry Brown, will push to extend it or make it permanent before its expiration date.
On Friday, the legislature made public its $110,000 contract with AECOM, a global engineering firm with an office in Morrisville, to chart the areas of the state where wind turbines could interfere with military bases. The study – which must be completed by next May – is part of an 18-month moratorium on wind farms enacted in July.
Cooper has until July 30 to consider the proposal, along with 110 other bills lawmakers left him before leaving Raleigh....Lawmakers "haven't made it easy with the addition of this wind moratorium," Cooper told reporters last week, "because you're essentially trying to pit renewables against each other.
Duke Energy Corp., the state's largest utility, and House Republicans are urging Cooper to approve the measure, saying the benefits to the solar industry would outweigh a short-term setback to the wind industry.
The moratorium would be a major setback for wind projects in northeastern North Carolina, including Apex Clean Energy's proposed Timbermill project in Perquimans and Chowan and the Little Alligator wind farm in Tyrrell County. The moratorium would allow the Amazon Wind Farm US East in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties to continue to operate, however.
The developers of a proposed commercial-scale wind farm project in Perquimans and Chowan counties got a double dose of bad news last week.
The compromise on the 18-month ban was announced around 1 a.m. Friday as the legislature wrapped up its session, following lengthy negotiations between the two chambers. If Gov. Roy Cooper signs the bill – or if he vetoes and it’s overridden – the ban will be in effect until Dec. 31, 2018. The bill also calls for a study of wind impacts on military operations, with a deadline of May 31, 2018, to issue findings and recommendations.
The Senate had insisted on a moratorium to allow time for a mandated report on the potential impact new wind development might have on military bases in eastern North Carolina.
Changes introduced on Wednesday include giving the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs the authority to issue permits to wind-farm proposals if it determines there would be no significant adverse impact on military activities.
Sanderson said the issue is critical, considering a possible 2018 Base Realignment and Closure process that could look at base and training area encroachment as reasons to close a location. “If you really want to put a damper on Marine bases like Cherry Point, then take away their ability to train,” he said. “And, with these new planes (F-35s) coming to Cherry Point, if they can’t train, they may just go somewhere else.”
The law would put a moratorium on the consideration of new permit applications for both onshore and offshore wind energy facilities, pending General Assembly studies on the impact of wind turbines on military operations.
Citing efforts to protect the state’s military installations, a newly filed bill in the North Carolina Senate is seeking a temporary moratorium on the construction of new wind projects.
But some lawmakers in eastern North Carolina still aren’t sold on the concept, citing health and safety concerns, especially for military pilots. They failed to pass legislation on the matter in the General Assembly this year, but eight legislators vowed to continue the fight in 2017.
This year’s bill, The Military Operations Protection Act, was pitched by the senator as a way to make sure projects aren’t built that are incompatible with military flight paths. But critics have called it an attack on wind energy since it eliminates much of the state, including major portions of Eastern North Carolina, as potential sites for wind energy projects.
Under the bill, wind facilities would not be allowed in areas described in a color-coded map, which measures the height of military aircraft training flights. The map was created by a company hired by the state, Brown said, and differs from an air traffic pattern map the Pentagon uses.
A proposal headed to the Senate floor would add requirements to the lengthy permitting process for wind farms to ensure they don't conflict with the training needs of North Carolina military bases.
NC bill takes aim at wind power and solar energy. Bill would require 1.5-mile safety buffer for wind, solar farms. Co-sponsor says renewable energy poses environmental risks.
The DEQ initially determined Iberdrola needed to go through the state permitting process for the altered project, issuing a letter to Iberdrola to that effect in March 2013. It reversed that decision in the following month, announcing the project would be grandfathered in.
On Friday, the NCUC issued an order stating "there is no provision in the Public Utilities Act that expressly authorizes the Commission to allow third-party sales of Commission-regulated electric utility services to the public for compensation."
The big news yesterday was that Republicans included no version of an extension of North Carolina’s 35% renewable energy tax credit in the budget compromise worked out by the Senate and House leadership. It will end, effectively, Dec. 31. But with the budget document finally available after months of delay, it seems clear that the leadership has dropped plans to freeze the state’s renewable energy portfolio standard.