Study of the potential energy payback from siting wind turbines in the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds is part of the $21.4 billion state budget that was passed this week.
Also, northeastern North Carolina would receive millions toward construction of the mid-Currituck County bridge, renovation of the historic Mattamuskeet Lodge in Hyde County and construction costs for new buildings at Elizabeth City State University.
The budget is awaiting Gov. Mike Easley’s signature.
“This budget was all about sustaining a strong economy and the importance of education and a knowledge-based economy,” state Sen. President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight, a Manteo Democrat, said in an e-mail. “The building projects for our university system were certainly part of that. I was particularly pleased to get funding for the Mid-Currituck Bridge, which will benefit the residents and visitors of the Northern Outer Banks.”
Although no specific appropriation was attached to it, the spending plan instructs the University of North Carolina to use available funds from its budget and from any grants or contributions to do an analysis of the feasibility and benefits of wind turbines in the coastal sounds.
The provision would consider the potential synergistic benefits of siting the wind turbines along with artificial oyster reefs.
The General Assembly approved $15 million annually for 39 years to fund the mid-Currituck bridge, action that will allow the North Carolina Turnpike Authority to also raise private funds to build the proposed seven-mile bridge. The revenue will be moved from the Highway Trust Fund.
“It’s not new money,” said Schorr Johnson, Basnight’s communications director. “It’s money that was going to the General Fund. It will now be going to the Turnpike Authority.”
The midcounty bridge would shorten the drive to the Currituck Outer Banks by nearly an hour. The Turnpike Authority is seeking private companies to help design, build and maintain the bridge, now estimated to be finished by 2013 at a cost of $636 million.
Projects funded in the budget include:
Elizabeth City State University: $18 million to complete the School of Education; $1.5 million for planning and site development for the School of Aviation Complex; $300,000 for flight-school operating expenses.
Learn & Earn Online: $250,000 each for high schools in Hyde, Tyrrell and Currituck counties. Qualified students can take a variety of online college-
credit courses at no cost to them or to their families. Students earn both high school and college credit for completed courses.
Mattamuskeet Lodge: $6.6 million for Phase II structural rehabilitation.
Wanchese Seafood Industrial Park: $110,900 for fire protection improvements; $94,800 for road repair; $400,000 for replacement of the waste-water treatment plant.
Elizabethan Gardens, Roanoke Island: $200,000 for graduate students at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University to do field work.
Fisheries: $2 million to provide six positions for the Oyster Sanctuary Program in the Division of Marine Fisheries; $4.3 million for a research scale oyster hatchery in the Division of Marine Fisheries; $1 million for the Fishery Resource Grant Program and river herring research.
Ferry Division: $1 million for the ferry maintenance facility in Manns Harbor.
By Catherine Kozak
10 July 2008
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