Article

Senate bans some wind energy

The N.C. Senate voted yesterday to ban the commercial generation of wind energy on North Carolina's western mountain ridges. Supporters of the ban argued that the construction of large wind turbines in the mountains would ruin the mountains' natural beauty. Environmentalists say that the state should be encouraging wind power, not limiting it.

RALEIGH - The N.C. Senate voted yesterday to ban the commercial generation of wind energy on North Carolina's western mountain ridges.

Supporters of the ban argued that the construction of large wind turbines in the mountains would ruin the mountains' natural beauty.

Environmentalists say that the state should be encouraging wind power, not limiting it.

An existing state law, which was passed in 1983, restricts development on mountain ridges, and the state has interpreted that law to prohibit wind turbines. But the language in that law is somewhat ambiguous, and the bill approved by the Senate yesterday would amend the law to explicitly cover wind turbines.

Most senators from mountain counties support an outright ban. They fear that their prized mountain peaks could be tainted if companies came in and covered them with commercial wind farms, which consist of spinning turbines that can be hundreds of feet tall.

There has been some commercial interest in building such projects in the mountains, including a failed bid in 2007 to build a wind farm in Ashe County.

One legislator in the region -- Sen. Steve Goss, D-Watauga -- opposed the ban. Goss said that although he is... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

RALEIGH - The N.C. Senate voted yesterday to ban the commercial generation of wind energy on North Carolina's western mountain ridges.

Supporters of the ban argued that the construction of large wind turbines in the mountains would ruin the mountains' natural beauty.

Environmentalists say that the state should be encouraging wind power, not limiting it.

An existing state law, which was passed in 1983, restricts development on mountain ridges, and the state has interpreted that law to prohibit wind turbines. But the language in that law is somewhat ambiguous, and the bill approved by the Senate yesterday would amend the law to explicitly cover wind turbines.

Most senators from mountain counties support an outright ban. They fear that their prized mountain peaks could be tainted if companies came in and covered them with commercial wind farms, which consist of spinning turbines that can be hundreds of feet tall.

There has been some commercial interest in building such projects in the mountains, including a failed bid in 2007 to build a wind farm in Ashe County.

One legislator in the region -- Sen. Steve Goss, D-Watauga -- opposed the ban. Goss said that although he is committed to protecting the scenic beauty of the mountains, he also believes that wind power shows great potential as a clean, renewable energy source.

He said the state should allow wind technology to continue to develop, and not completely rule it out.

"What we need is not to make a rash decision on this," Goss said.

But Goss' attempts to amend the bill failed, and the bill was approved by a vote of 42-to-1, with Goss providing the only vote against the bill.

The bill now goes to the N.C. House. It's unclear if the House will act on the bill right away. The General Assembly is close to adjourning for the year.

The bill was initially intended to set up a permitting process for the generation of wind energy in other counties in the state. It still would do that, but as it made its way through legislative committees, it was supplemented to include the language that would ban wind energy in the mountains.

Goss fought to get that language removed. The bill came up for a vote in the full Senate last month, and Goss got it delayed. But in private meetings with other Democratic senators, he was unable to persuade them to change the bill.

Under the bill, some smaller windmills would be allowed. They could be no more than 100 feet tall, and they would have to be used primarily for generating electricity for a single home, not for commercial purposes.

Environmentalists say that the supporters of the ban have overstated the risk of ruining the beauty of the mountains. They say that wind turbines could be sited on only 5 percent of the state's ridgelines. That would leave most mountains untouched while also providing a significant amount of clean energy for the state, they say.


Source: http://www2.journalnow.com/...

AUG 7 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/21618-senate-bans-some-wind-energy
back to top