Articles from North Carolina

Huge industrial windmills on ridge tops a bad idea

In 1983, Sugar Top Condos were built on the top of Sugar Mountain in Avery County. Sugar Top Condos rise 131 feet above the ridgeline and can be seen for several miles. These towering condos were so devastating to the scenic splendor of the mountains that the General Assembly wisely enacted strict ridge top laws to stop these monstrosities from appearing throughout our mountains. While the statewide law was too late for Sugar Mountain, the law stopped similar projects of shocking heights and destruction of the mountains. Sugar Top Condos is a permanent reminder that once a structure is built on our mountain tops, we cannot unbuild it.
27 Aug 2009

Wind farm study favors sound near Buxton, N.C.

After measuring wind value and eliminating conflicts with bird migratory patterns, fish habitat and military air space, a new state coastal wind study says the best spot for utility-scale wind energy is in the sound off Buxton. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill feasibility study, requested last year by state Sen. Marc Basnight, D-Manteo, found that most other state waters are unsuitable for wind-energy development.
23 Aug 2009

On renewable energy, reject fallacy of false choices

One need not state a falsehood to tell a lie. Misleading presentation of facts and rhetorical sleight of hand have become modern art forms. One of the most insulting practices is the framing of arguments in terms of false choices. I’m particularly disappointed to see two local environmental organizations with whom I share much common ground distilling the debate over industrial scale wind farms down to: We can let the coal industry flatten the mountains and pollute the air and water, or we can let the wind industry turn the mountains into Gary, Ind.,with slopes. Which shall we do? I’ll take C), neither of the above.
19 Aug 2009

Clean energy future may be blowing in the wind

Will wind-generated power save the environment or sacrifice it? The answer depends on who you ask ..."Your senators are very brave in what they're doing," said Lisa Linowes of New Hampshire-based Wind Action. "The legislature already concluded when it adopted the Ridge ordinance that your mountains have cultural significance to the state. When asked now to consider whether that value is worth more - or less - than wind generated electrons on the grid, your mountain senators are doing what most politicians in the U.S. have not done. They're putting a cold eye to the options and deciding wind is not worth the sacrifice, at least for now."
16 Aug 2009

North Carolina moves to limit wind projects

The North Carolina Senate voted overwhelmingly to ban large turbines from the state's ridgelines. The North Carolina State Senate has voted overwhelmingly to ban large wind turbines from the state's scenic western ridgelines. The 42-1 vote on Thursday represents the strongest stand against wind turbines taken by lawmakers in any state.
7 Aug 2009

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.
7 Aug 2009

NC bill would keep wind turbines off mountaintops

North Carolina senators have approved banning wind turbines from Appalachian ridges, balancing potential for green energy against unspoiled mountain vistas. The Senate voted 42-1 on Thursday to establish regulations for where wind turbines can be built. It next heads to the state House, where it may not come up until next spring.
6 Aug 2009

Looser windmill rules defeated

Rows of wind turbines are unlikely to be spinning atop mountain ridges anytime soon. A Senate committee on Wednesday rejected a proposal that would have paved the way for large-scale wind energy production in the mountains. Large wind turbines are banned under the state's interpretation of a law restricting ridge development. The Agriculture Committee advanced a proposal that would keep it that way, changing the ridge law to cement the ban.
6 Aug 2009

Wind turbine opponents win the day

Officials have interpreted the state's mountain ridge development law as banning large wind turbines on the ridges. The Senate Agriculture Committee this morning rejected a proposal that would have reversed that ban. Instead, a bill moving through the Senate will continue to call for cementing the ban.
5 Aug 2009

Texas wind farms reap N.C. dollars; Utilities look out of state to meet green-energy targets

The answer to North Carolina's green energy challenge is blowing in the wind-swept mesas of Texas. With the first deadlines fast approaching for North Carolina's renewable energy targets, power companies in this state are snapping up green certificates from out-of-state wind farms. The certificates don't buy electricity, but pay for credits needed to meet state targets.
30 Jul 2009

Wind farms: Better places than atop our mountains

If the nature of this debate sends one clear message, it's that wind power legislation needs to be thoroughly studied, not rushed through. The locus of the debate isn't over wind power itself, but of size, scale and most of all - location. Sen. Steve Goss of Watauga County wants farms permitted on ridge top locations in his area; Sens. Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, John Snow, D-Murphy, and Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville, point to the fact that such large structures would run afoul of the mountain ridge law.
22 Jul 2009

Wind power raises storm; Legislators shaping bill to limit use in N.C. hills

State senators are now considering a bill that -- as it's currently written -- would effectively ban any large-scale generation of wind power in the mountains. The bill appeared to be headed for passage in the Senate last week because it had the support of several key Democrats from the mountains. Allowing large wind turbines would "destroy our crown jewel," said Sen. Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe. But Sen. Steve Goss, D-Watauga, broke with the other western legislators, saying that the ban goes too far.
20 Jul 2009

Windy debate on state gems

The debate has its roots in a condominium project that popped up on a mountain ridge in the 1980s. There were no mountain area zoning laws to prevent it, and when the Sugar Top project emerged to stick out like a sore thumb, the General Assembly quickly acted. It adopted the Ridge Law, intended to stop the erection of excessively tall structures atop mountain ridges in altitudes of 3,000 feet or greater.
19 Jul 2009

N.C. wind-power regs hit snag

The Senate's Finance Committee had approved a version of the bill that included rules for permits to build wind farms in the N.C. mountains on Tuesday. But in floor debate Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Steve Goss, D-Watauga, attempted to amend the bill to allow more wind development in the high country.
17 Jul 2009

Lawmakers spar over windmill restrictions

Local and global environmental worries ran into each other Wednesday on the floor of the state Senate. "It's a competing environmental issue," state Sen. Joe Sam Queen told fellow senators, "developing alternative wind energy and preserving the beauty of the mountains." Senate Democrats from Western North Carolina sparred over whether windmills should be allowed to line ridge tops.
16 Jul 2009

Lawmakers aim to protect scenery with windmill limits

A proposed change to North Carolina's ridge protection law unveiled Tuesday would prevent large-scale wind energy production in the mountains. At the urging of some mountain senators, the state Senate Finance Committee added the restrictions to a bill moving through the General Assembly that will shape where windmills are allowed to be built statewide.
15 Jul 2009

Lawmakers approve wind power ban

Senate lawmakers this afternoon brought the state a step closer to a total ban on commercial wind development on North Caorlina's mountain tops with an overwhelming vote in the Senate Finance Committee of the General Assembly. Panel members agreed to restrict wind power development to residential uses on towers limited to 100 feet tall. That restriction prohibits commercial wind farms, which link multiple turbines that can exceed 300 feet.
14 Jul 2009

Powering up? ...but take care with western North Carolina's scenic ridges

The General Assembly is trying to craft regulations for building electricity-generating wind turbines in North Carolina, and the legislative winds have been blowing hot and cold. ...state senators swayed back and forth on a bill setting the ground rules for getting permits to develop utility-scale wind both in the western mountains and along the coast. It's the mountain ridge-top issue, however, that's at the heart of the controversy.
14 Jul 2009

NC wind farm plans await regulations; Some WNC lawmakers want limits on Mitchell project

The prospects for harnessing the winds whipping across a mountain ridge in Mitchell County depend on which way the wind blows in the General Assembly. Some lawmakers want to create a permit process for wind farms in the mountains, while others want to ban such clusters of windmills from ridges. Officials say they are poised to lure a wind-energy company and its green jobs to Spruce Pine if legislators open the door.
13 Jul 2009
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