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Wind turbines debated  

CEDAR POINT – 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 was one of the speakers at a Wednesday night community meeting held by the Carteret County Planning Commission to get residents’ input on a tall-structures ordinance under development that will regulate structures such as wind turbines and cellular towers.

A nine-month moratorium on the permitting of such structures is in place while the regulations are developed. This week’s meeting at Western Park Community Center in Cedar Point was the first in a series of meetings the planning commission is holding before finalizing a recommendation to go to the county Board of Commissioners.

Regulations for wind turbines have been at the core of discussions with the proposed wind energy project, which, if it proceeds, would put three utility-scale wind turbines on 33 acres in the Bettie community.

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 property setbacks for these industrial turbines as they are in the draft ordinance are not adequate, he said.

The Pauls have said the Down East area has wind suitable for the development of an alternative energy source, and they see their project as an opportunity to further wind energy efforts in the county.

Tim Conboy, a project developer for Acciona Energy, a leader in renewable energy, said there has been a lot of work on wind energy within the industry and states like North Carolina are encouraging the use of alternative energy sources.

A bill adopted in North Carolina last year promotes energy efficiency and establishes standards for the use of renewable energy such as wind and solar power, creating a new market for renewable energy efforts.

Conboy cited numbers from the Global Wind Energy Council, which says global wind power capacity has grown over the last 10 years at an average cumulative rate of 28 percent.

More than 100,000 wind turbines are installed in 70 countries and wind energy meets the electricity needs of 25 million households worldwide, according to the council.

Several Down East residents who spoke said they support alternative energy uses such as wind and solar power, but they said placement of any industrial wind turbines in the county should be allowed with careful consideration.

“We would like to see renewable energy, but we’d also like to see responsible siting,” said Charles Renda.

Residents said placement of the structures too close to residential areas and places where people congregate poses a health risk due to noise and vibrations from turbines.

Ernie Filep cited scientific research by Nina Pierpont of New York, who has studied the human response to wind turbine noise. In a letter to Filep, she recommends that industrial wind turbines be a minimum of one-and-a-quarter miles away from homes, schools, hospitals and other such places.

Public safety remains a concern for Stephanie Miscovich, who lives near the proposed wind farm site in Bettie. She doesn’t have a problem with draft regulations for small-scale windmills, but she said the regulations for utility-scale turbines should take into account turbine design limitations.

Unlike other communities where turbines may be located, Carteret County sits in a hurricane-prone area. And according to research she has done, hurricane wind speeds can exceed current design limits.

Carteret County is also different for other reasons, she said.

In the Midwest and Texas, there is plenty of good wind in wide open spaces, so wind farms are removed from population centers. Here, she said, the wind is concentrated along the edge of the mainland where the population is.

For residents interested in commenting, two more community meetings are scheduled in June. A June 19 meeting will be at 5 p.m. at the county administration building in Beaufort, and the final meeting will be at 6 p.m. June 25 at Smyrna Elementary School.

Jannett Pippin
Daily News Staff

Jacksonville Daily News

30 May 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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