Articles from North Carolina
N.C. State University was selected by the National Science Foundation to lead a $28.5 million research initiative to transform the nation's century-old power transmission system into a "smart grid" network that will be able to store energy from solar power, wind farms and other alternative resources.
The wind turbine section of the county's draft tall structures ordinance is going back to the planning department for changes in setbacks for utility scale turbines, waivers and more after a thorough reading Thursday night by the County Planning Commission. The issue garnered mixed feelings from the public during the planning commission's special meeting in the boardroom of the administration building, as some supported the draft ordinance and the proposed setbacks in it while others felt their earlier comments regarding human health near wind turbines "fell on deaf ears."
As chairman of Responsible Citizens for Responsible Energy (RCRE), our stand has never been to ban wind turbines from Carteret County. As our name implies, our main goal is to obtain responsible siting in the pending ordinance. It is our elected and appointed officials responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of the residents of Carteret County by adopting an ordinance which mandates a safe and responsible setback of wind turbines from neighboring homes and properties.
Currituck planners decided Tuesday to uphold the county's new wind energy ordinance and oppose a request to exempt small wind turbines from setback requirements. Dean Karico of East Coast Windpower asked the Currituck Planning Board to recommend approving a text amendment ...that exempts small-system wind turbines from property line setbacks. The current ordinance allows small-scale residential turbines, up to 120 feet in height, on lots at least 20,000 square feet. However, the turbine must be set back from property lines by one foot for each foot of the structure's height.
I would simply like simple answers to simple questions, i.e., what happens when the wind doesn't blow?; what happens when the wind blows too hard?; how many dirty power plants will be decommissioned as a result of embracing wind power?; how many projected new plants now on the books will be scrapped?; will the air over the Smoky Mountains become cleaner and clearer as a result of wind turbines?; will ozone alerts become fewer and farther between?; where are we going to put 300,000 wind turbines to meet the proposed goal of generating 20 percent of the nation's electricity by 2025?
Victory may be a long shot, but Earl Hendrix is geared up for the fight. For more than eight months, Hendrix, a 76-year-old Hoke County farmer, has been protesting Progress Energy's 230-kilovolt power line expected to run through 21 miles of private land in the county. The route, which begins in Richmond County and travels through Scotland and Hoke to end in Cumberland County, will affect 77 property owners in Hoke County and 29 in Cumberland County. To Progress Energy, the line is a much-needed solution to the state's growing energy needs fueled by a rapidly increasing population and an upswing in electricity usage. But to Hendrix and other landowners in the county, it's a threat to Hoke's financial outlook and future.
In my humble opinion when any organization actively pursuing wind power options, promoting legislation that would support those options and taking it upon themselves to define responsible siting criteria publishes a "model" ordinance, it's going to be an ordinance promoting the interest of wind production and wind producers. And what could have prompted the need for wind proponents to create their own model ordinance? Well, according to Brent Summerville, wind program manager at ASU's Energy Center, "Some wind ordinances have passed that are not favorable to utility scale wind development.
Doug Huggett, major permits coordinator for the state Division of Coastal Management, said the state has rules and regulations that limit what structures can be built in open water. Huggett said wind farms offshore currently are not allowed, so policymakers would have to change the rules if they wanted to accommodate offshore wind turbines. The turbines aren't without controversy. Some raise concern about the noise they generate, while others worry the spinning blades pose hazards to birds. During the recent legislative session, lawmakers directed a study of the permitting of commercial-scale wind farms to ensure they're built in an orderly manner that doesn't harm the environment.
A complete version of the draft ordinance regulating wind turbines and communication towers was presented Thursday to the County Planning Commission, and while the ordinance now addresses noise, shadow flicker and more, there are still several steps to go before the draft is proposed to county commissioners. Planning Commission Chairman Harry Archer said now that a significant amount of research has been done and an initial draft has been developed, comments obtained during three public comment meetings recently will be used to modify the draft.
While some at the meeting said they opposed wind turbines in the county because they would take away from the county's aesthetic beauty and would simply be dangerous in an area known for heavy winds, others felt the county had some areas that would be appropriate for large-scale turbines. Catherine Elkins of Gloucester said she supported the work done on the ordinance so far and was happy it wasn't being designed around the wind farm being proposed for 33 acres near Golden Farm Road in Bettie. ...The project sparked much debate across the county and prompted county commissioners to enact a nine-month moratorium to allow staff time to develop an ordinance. The moratorium expires in November.
Wind power is certainly growing fast, even if Congress hasn't gotten around to extending clean-energy tax credits. Plenty of states are boosting renewable-energy targets. The Department of Energy is chuffed about wind's potential. And even if the Lieberman-Warner climate bill sank, U.S. industries know there will be some pricetag put on carbon emissions pretty soon. That will make wind (and nuclear) more attractive. But maybe the deal is just a way to burnish Big Power's image at a time when energy companies are taking fire from all directions. Catamount's wind-power assets are a drop in the bucket compared to Duke's overall generation mix. Catamount's U.S. assets, part of the massive Sweetwater wind-farm complex in Texas, equates to about 300 megawatts of power, or about one-quarter of some of Duke's big coal-fired plants and less than 1% of Duke's total generation portfolio.
The County Planning Commission will hold the second of three public comment periods to obtain citizens' opinions regarding the draft proposed ordinance to regulate tall structures. The special meeting is slated for 5 p.m. Thursday in the boardroom of the administration building. The draft ordinance addresses wind turbines and communication towers.
With size and health impacts of potential wind turbines in the county, as well as proposed setbacks, the top concerns Wednesday during a special meeting of the County Planning Commission, the wind turbine portion of the county's proposed tall structures ordinance is proving to take priority over communication towers. ...The wind turbine debate, as well as the ensuing moratorium and proposed ordinance, was sparked by a wind farm of 4.5 megawatts for 33 acres on Golden Farm Road in the Down East community of Bettie, which would consist of three turbines at more than 300 feet tall. During the public comment portion of the meeting, the planning commission heard from people who have attended nearly every county meeting regarding wind turbines and the proposed ordinance while only two residents from the western end of the county spoke.
When Joseph Betz of Cape Carteret bought property near Bogue Field, he moved into his home expecting to hear the sound of military aircraft flying overhead. That was his choice. But Betz said the Golden Wind Farm project proposed for a community in Down East Carteret County would be an imposition for which residents haven't asked. "For the people down there, it is not an existing condition," he said. ...Betz said the proposed plans by Nelson and Dianna Paul of Raleigh could put turbines of 350 feet or more, which he described as "monstrous," in the middle of the community. "This is not a couple of hundred-foot windmills; these are massive structures," he said.
The Albemarle County Planning Commission has thrown out the idea of allowing commercial wind turbines in the county-but it's mulling the idea of smaller wind turbines for individual homeowners. ...the devices are behemoths that are up to 550' tall, dwarfing everything around them. "As I understand it, where they might be adequate, there would be unacceptable environmental consequences to the surrounding area," says Commissioner Jon Cannon. Fellow Commissioner Marcia Joseph echoed Cannon's feelings on commercial wind turbine creation. "My main concern is lining the ridgeline with commercial-sized wind turbines," says UVA Environmental Sciences Professor Rick Webb. "I'm concerned about industrial scale development intruding on what remains of wilderness areas we have left."
Local opposition is knocking the wind out of efforts to promote renewable energy, but whether coastal ordinances that halt or tightly regulate electricity-generating windmills have them down for the count remains to be seen. The latest setback came in March, when Carteret County imposed a nine-month moratorium. In January, Currituck County started restricting where they can be built. "We're faced with something we know little about," says Doug Harris, chairman of the Carteret County commissioners. "We're looking at something that, from sea level to the tip of the blade, could be 470 to 490 feet tall.
While Thursday evening's special meeting of the County Planning Commission was intended to provide the board with the cell tower section of the tall structures ordinance, the floor was again opened to public concerns regarding the controversial wind turbines. ...The men's main concerns were in regard to low frequency noise and vibrations produced by large turbines and said the best way to resolve those issues was to ensure there were large setback requirements in the ordinance. "A mile and a half to 1.9 miles is what is suggested," Mr. Randy said. And Bob White with the AES Corp., an independent power producer in Apex, said his company, which has offered the town support during the draft process, had already imposed a setback limit of 1.1 to 1.5 miles or 1,812 feet, regardless of noise, when close to residential areas.
Duke Energy Carolinas is ramping up plans to generate some of its own renewable energy, with the company primarily warming up to solar power. ...Duke has been considering its options on owning alternative energy capacity or buying it. Chief Executive Jim Rogers says the corporation has decided its utilities will do both. ...Rogers says some of Duke's utilities will also own their own wind capacity. But he says wind energy is a less likely alternative in the Carolinas. Duke may negotiate the purchase of wind energy here. But the only place wind farms would work in Duke's footprint is along the ridge lines in the western mountains and along the coast. "I'm not sure many environmentalists would salute that proposal," Rogers says.
Those who want America to turn to alternative energy might ponder that "Everyone from the U.S. Energy Information Agency to the U.N." agrees," says the Journal, "that fossil fuels will still account for as much as 80% of the world energy needs through 2030, even with efficient gains and major growth in alternatives." ...Writing in The Weekly Standard on alternative energy, William Tucker says "those 30-story windmills " like the three proposed for Bettie" "produce 1½ megawatts apiece" about 1/750th the power of a conventional generating station. Getting 1,000 megawatts would require a wind farm of 75 miles square." He adds wind, hydro and all the "alternate" sources of energy are dubbed "green" because they are supposedly clean, renewable and sustainable, but in fact what being "green" really mean is they all require vast amounts of land.
Raleigh entrepreneur Nelson Paul cleared the first hurdle Thursday toward building a 4.5 megawatt wind power plant in Bettie, east of Morehead City. The state Utilities Commission today approved the proposed project on condition that the wind farm is permitted locally by Carteret County and also cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration. Carteret County has imposed a moratorium on wind farms as officials there seek to establish regulations for the structures in coastal areas.