Library filed under Offshore Wind from North Carolina
The Brunswick Commissioners extended the usual “not-in-my-backyard” thinking to “not-within-27-miles” Monday, voting to oppose construction of wind turbines within 24 nautical miles (about 27 miles) of the county’s shoreline. Although no wind-energy projects are planned for the area, the federal government has identified three Wind Energy Areas (WEA) off the North Carolina coast as potential sites for turbines, which would harness offshore wind to produce electricity.
The opposition movement began earlier this summer in Bald Head Island. The village council approved a resolution in May that makes it clear any efforts to place wind farms within the island’s viewshed — the territory of ocean in which the turbines could be seen from the beach, or the Old Baldy lighthouse — will be met with a fight. The campaign spread to neighboring coastal towns, with Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach passing similar resolutions in July.
Brunswick County’s board of commissioners will consider a resolution opposing offshore wind turbines sited fewer than 24 nautical miles of the shoreline, following the lead of a handful of its oceanfront towns, including Bald Head Island, Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach and Caswell Beach.
A little more than four years ago, Amazon Wind Farm US East began operations in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties. The same renewable energy company that built the Amazon facility plans to build a similar site off the coast of northeastern North Carolina.
Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina are teaming up on an effort to kickstart wind energy and economic development off their shores. The new initiative provides a framework for the three states to "cooperatively promote, develop, and expand offshore wind energy and the accompanying industry supply chain and workforce," they said in a joint press release.
Altogether, tracts off of the Carolinas could mean $45 billion in investment, the report reads. But interest has been lower in tracts off the Carolinas for several reasons, including “a lack of an offshore mandate … lower power prices, and lower capacity factors.”
Avangrid has been working to bring offshore wind to North Carolina since 2017 when it submitted a $9.1 million bid to lease the 122,000-acre tract off the coast of Kitty Hawk Coastal Reserve. But all along executives have said the process will take time. In addition to regulatory hurdles, it’s a complex and expensive project – made even more difficult by the fact that the tract is miles out to sea.
The study was approved as part of the legislature’s budget, which was vetoed by the governor over other matters.
A ban on land-based wind projects expired, but industry leaders say new onshore development isn’t a current priority.
“A lot of it just has to do with the market conditions coming together that make it very competitive,” she says, noting that improvements in both process and technology, including bigger turbines being developed, are making the numbers work in off-shore's favor.
Two companies have been tasked by the federal government with conducting ultra-high resolution aerial digital surveys of wildlife off the coast of North and South Carolina of sites for proposed offshore wind farms. The survey by APEM, based in Manchester, England, and Normandeau Associates Inc., which has an office in Stanley, N.C., will provide baseline data to help with siting and permitting future developments.
“Folks feel really strongly about these location. They often grew up going to these beaches and now take their children.” “If you build turbines that are close to shore and you lose those loyal customers, you have to find the new ones." Attracting an entirely new customer base to replace current renters could be a lengthy and difficult process.
“There was a lot of support for wind energy, but no one was willing to pay more to see wind turbines from the beach by their vacation rental property. And if turbines are built close to shore, most people said they would choose a different vacation location where they wouldn’t have to see turbines."
"Eighty percent of respondents would either not come back to the same vacation spot if turbines were built offshore, or said they would require such large price discounts to re-rent at the same location as to be unrealistic. People want their beaches to remain in a natural state,” said center Director Laura Taylor.
An offshore wind farm erected off the coast of North Carolina would reduce coastal rentals and potentially harm tourism, even if the energy project was placed at a maximum distance from shore, a study by N.C. State University economists found.
Carrie Moffett, executive director of the Bald Head Association for property owners, said the official findings don't adequately reflect all possible effects. "Our position is that there is not a good understanding of or research into the potential impact of the turbines, at their proposed distance, on property values and tourism, which this area is heavily dependent on," she said. In a resolution drafted Feb. 23, the Village of Bald Head Island requested the Bureau of Energy Management move the energy areas at least 20 miles offshore.
Federal officials with the Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) expect hundreds of turbines to churn out energy off of the Bald Head Island coastline. On Wednesday, BOEM hosted the North Carolina Renewable Energy Task Force, a coalition between the federal agency and local interests such as representatives from Bald Head island, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and state government officials to discuss the steps being made to bring wind energy to the North Carolina coastline.
North Carolina’s environment secretary has urged a federal agency not to sell wind energy leases within 24 miles of the state’s coast, a limit that advocates say would largely block wind farms. ...“We have voiced consistent concerns and sought similar protections for both offshore wind and offshore oil and gas development.”
The first leases allowing wind turbines offshore of the Carolinas are expected to be let next year although some still worry the massive turbines could harm tourism upon which coastal communities depend.
State lawmakers have largely deregulated other energy production, but ramped up rules for potential wind farms, making it more feasible for wind companies to look to other states.