Articles from North Carolina
Coastal breezes and a new state law are attracting the first plans for tall wind turbines in northeastern North Carolina, but success depends on their effect on coastal views. ...Maps show the coast is a good place to generate wind-powered energy, but opponents say tall turbines could spoil coastal scenery and weaken tourism. In June, the western North Carolina resort town of Blowing Rock banned wind turbines over concerns that the towers would clutter mountain views. But a new North Carolina law requires utility companies to buy 10 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2018.
Kill Devil Hills resident Manny Medeiros questioned many of the claims, asserting it would take a swath from New York to the Outer Banks to provide the power that a nuclear plant could give. He said he felt the turbines were eyesores and produce only a fraction of the power of conventional energy sources. "It's like comparing lightning to a lightning bug," he said.
Aug. 1--RALEIGH -- North Carolina is on the verge of becoming the first state in the Southeast to require that a significant portion of its electricity come from sources of renewable energy. But the same bill that will mandate more solar and wind energy also contains a provision that environmentalists say will promote the construction of coal and nuclear-power plants. And critics say that the bill could hurt electricity consumers and have other environmentally detrimental effects.
The N.C. Utilities Commission dismissed Calhoun's application Friday, saying he provided insufficient information, despite being granted a 120-day extension. The commission denied the application nine days after Calhoun submitted a letter explaining that no financial institution was willing to invest in his project until the commission approved it. The project was also opposed by the Public Staff, the state's consumer agency in utility matters. The Public Staff concluded that wind turbines are barred in the mountains under the state's Mountain Ridge Protection Act of 1983. The law prohibits the construction of buildings or structures more than 40 feet tall on mountain ridges, but it exempts windmills. Wind power advocates say the windmill exemption allows wind turbines, but the interpretation is unclear. The Public Staff relied on a 2002 legal opinion from the state Attorney General, who concluded that the 1983 law bars commercial-scale wind-power operations.
The N.C. utilities commission dismissed yesterday an application for a commercial wind farm in the Ashe County community of Creston. Last July's application by Northwest Wind Developers to put up 25 to 28 wind turbines created uproar in the mountains, with some people complaining that 300-foot tall turbines would ruin tourism, views and real-estate values. But there were many supporters, too, people who said that the nation needs renewable energy and that wind power is a good source. It would have been the state's first commercial wind farm. For all the hoopla, though, Northwest Wind Developers never really did say just how tall the turbines would be or exactly where they would be, or provide other details the utilities commission had requested at a February hearing in Raleigh. The failure to provide a complete application is the reason for dismissing the case, according to an order issued yesterday by the utilities commission. Northwest could file a new application later, the order said.
A small scale green revolution is under way in Camden County as interest grows in windmill power. That interest has energized County Planning Director Dan Porter, who is faced with drawing up policies on wind power, after the county received its first applications for windmills to generate electricity. "We've had one homeowner in a subdivision that got interested and wanted to know if he could put up a 65-foot wind meter to determine whether it was suitable for a windmill," Porter said Monday. "We don't currently have any regulations on windmills," he said.
State legislators added new environmental protections yesterday to a major energy bill, but they left intact a provision that would make it easier for power companies to build coal and nuclear power plants. The bill would require power companies to begin energy-conservation programs and increase their use of renewable-energy resources. Renewable energy includes solar power, wind power and power generated from the burning of animal waste.
Environmentalist groups have pushed for years for a state policy that requires utilities to develop renewable energy and efficiency programs. But many of those groups are fighting a bill in the General Assembly that includes their long-sought goal.
An Ashe County man trying to build a commercial wind farm in Creston said yesterday that he doesn't have the money to continue to do studies requested by the N.C. Utilities Commission. Richard Calhoun of Northwest Wind Developers is asking for conditional permission to move forward with the project, but he said that his application could be dismissed before an Aug. 8 hearing. The public staff of the utilities commission is recommending that the project be denied because Calhoun hasn't submitted the requested information and because it believes that wind turbines violate the state's Ridge Law, which prohibits tall buildings or structures on protected ridges.
Ashe County Commissioners voted unanimously this week to adopt a new ordinance regulating the size and placement of wind power systems in unincorporated areas of the county....A 135-foot height limit was placed on small systems while large systems can reach as high as 199 feet - a number the commission said was based on Federal Aviation Administration regulations requiring lighting to warn aircraft of air space hazards.
Provisions make it easier to finance new power plants. Legislation to force N.C. power companies to be greener would also make it easier for them to build power plants that would pollute, environmentalists and some lawmakers say. The complex proposal requires Duke Energy Corp. and other power companies to produce 12.5 percent of electricity from energy efficiency programs and renewable sources, such as the wind, the sun and animal waste. Environmentalists have fought for clean energy requirements for years, increasingly popular around the country. But some say this bill is little comfort because it has several corporate-sponsored provisions, including ones that make it easier to finance new power plants and pass those costs on to consumers.
Legislation designed to help the state reduce energy use and promote the use of renewable power sources sailed through the state Senate this month. But the bill has stalled in the House amid growing concern that it would have the opposite effect: encouraging the construction of more power plants.
The Ashe County Board of Commissioners adopted a wind-energy ordinance yesterday that limits wind-turbine heights to 199 feet as measured to the tip of the turbine's blade. The new rules replace those that commissioners adopted in February as they hurried to get county-wide regulations in place before the first N.C. Utilities Commission hearing on a proposed commercial wind farm of 25 to 28 turbines in Creston. The utilities commission's hearings are scheduled in August, and the commissioners have been reviewing the ordinance. The regulations are effective immediately because the commissioners voted unanimously on the matter. Their 5-0 vote followed a short public hearing.
For years, environmental advocates have pushed for North Carolina to require its power companies to use a set amount of renewable energy sources, such as wind energy, solar energy or animal waste. This year, that might happen - but the bill that would do it also includes provisions that some advocates say would hurt the environment by encouraging more coal and nuclear power plants. The bill, which was overwhelmingly approved by the N.C. Senate, is now being studied by the N.C. House of Representatives. It would require Duke Energy and Progress Energy to generate a significant amount of their electricity through renewable sources. The bill is expected to face a tougher fight in the House than it did in the Senate. The House energy committee is scheduled to hold a three-hour public comment period on the bill today in Raleigh at 3 p.m.
Ashe County commissioners voted unanimously today to adopt a new county wind-energy ordinance. The new version takes the place of one adopted in February. It limits the total height of wind turbines to 199 feet. That means that the turbines would not require aircraft warning lights. The new stipulation pleases residents, including those who objected because the turbines would be illuminated at night. The revised ordinance takes effect immediately.
The mountain counties of Northwest North Carolina would probably generate a large part of the state's renewable energy. But residents in Ashe and Wilkes counties have already shown this year that reaching the proposed green-energy goals won't come easily. A proposal to build a wind farm on a ridge in Ashe County set off a storm of protest this year, with opponents saying that the giant turbines would ruin sweeping mountain vistas, killing tourism and housing markets.
Six of the nation's 10 largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions are coal-fired power plants in the South, but year after year Southern lawmakers balk at pushing utilities toward cleaner renewable energy. Last month, Republican senators from the South provided about half the votes that defeated federal legislation to require power companies to get 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Nationally, almost half the states have adopted their own renewable mandates, but only one, Texas, is in the South. Southern lawmakers -- responding to heavy lobbying from local utilities -- argue their region isn't conducive to solar or wind power like the sun-baked Southwest or the open plains of the West.
RALEIGH - It's hard to run a business when nobody wants to buy what you're selling. Some businesses have found a way around this obstacle: Get the government on your side. This is the reality in the renewable energy industry, where excessively high prices keep the industry from being competitive. North Carolina has a voluntary program, called NC GreenPower, which allows the public to voluntarily support renewable energy. The participation rate has been dismal. Renewable energy sold through the program accounts for only about .01 percent of all electricity sold in the state. The state Senate passed Senate Bill 3 since North Carolinians won't voluntarily support renewable energy. Apparently, the state Senate thinks people must be forced to support renewable energy against their will.
The Mountain Ridge Protection Act, along with these proposed ordinances- should make sure that the whole county is covered, McMillan said. One change would lessen the setback for utility scale turbines to 1,000 feet. Under the proposal, no portion of a large wind energy system could be located or maintained on a protected mountain ridge if the top of the turbine exceeds the vegetative canopy by more than 35 feet.
Though more consistent than such sources as wind energy and solar power, the Haw River hydroelectric project would produce full power only about 50 percent of the time, depending on the amount of water available.