The nation’s largest independent wind energy developer is proposing to build an 80-megawatt wind farm in Eastern North Carolina, about 120 miles east of Raleigh.
Chicago-based Invenergy has notified the N.C. Utilities Commission that it plans to build a 49-turbine facility on 11,000 acres in Beaufort County. If approved, the Pantego Wind Energy project, planned for 20 miles east of Washington, N.C., would begin generating electricity in December 2012 and would have a permanent staff of five technicians and operators.
Wind resources in coastal areas of the state, as well as offshore over the Atlantic Ocean, are considered among the best on the East Coast, generating widespread interest in development here.
“The project will provide greater energy security for North Carolina by the use of a truly indigenous and renewable resource available within the state,” Invenergy’s application stated.
Green energy has surged in North Carolina since a 2007 state law required electric utilities to increase their reliance on renewable resources. But to date, the state has not seen the completion of a commercial-scale wind farm.
The N.C. Utilities Commission this year approved a 300-megawatt wind farm near Elizabeth City that would lease land from local farmers to install turbines, but the plan requires authorization from federal agencies. Meanwhile, developers have proposed a giant offshore wind farm that would require federal approval.
In addition to the N.C. Utilities Commission, Invenergy would need state and federal environmental approvals, as well as a sign-off from the U.S. Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy.
The Pantego project would generate electricity between 25 percent and 36 percent of the time, known as a capacity factor.
Invenergy operates 26 wind farms with more than 1,200 turbines in the country with a capacity of 2,435 megawatts. The company has wind projects totaling more than 15,000 megawatts under development.