Wind power, or more specifically wind dreams, is stirring comment.
In November, Carina Barnett-Loro, conservation program coordinator of the N.C. Chapter of the Sierra Club, aided by Will Stanley, East Carteret High School student, told Beaufort commissioners about wind power. They said North Carolina has the largest offshore wind resource on the East Coast, state government is examining offshore wind resources and Carteret County is an area with the best potential.
The John Locke Foundation will present a counter argument – “The Truth About Wind Power on the North Carolina Coast” – to which the public is invited, Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Joslyn Hall, Carteret Community College. The event is free. Presenters are Daren Bakst, director of Legal and Regulatory Studies John Locke Foundation; David W. Schnare, Ph.D., director of the Environmental Law Center at the American Tradition Institute, and John Droz Jr., Morehead City, a fellow at the American Tradition Institute.
This past January, Iberdrola Renewables Inc., based in Portland, Ore., and part of a global Spanish company, filed an application with the N.C. Utilities Commission to erect 150 wind turbines in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties in northeastern North Carolina, a 300-megawatt (MW) project, enough it says to power between 55,000 to 70,000 North Carolina homes. The project was approved in May.
If built, the Desert Wind Power Project – named for the flat, agricultural region in the area – would be on about 20,000 acres of private land near Elizabeth City.
When the announcement was made, Gov. Bev Perdue said: “Developing our green economy is a cornerstone of my vision for North Carolina’s economic future. Projects such as the proposed Iberdrola Renewables’ wind farm can help us lay the foundation for North Carolina to lead the nation in clean, homegrown energy.”
Said Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco: “Gov. Perdue has made fostering the development of clean energy projects a priority to make North Carolina a national leader in the green economy. This project would spark creation of clean energy manufacturing and jobs in North Carolina.”
Now the project has hit a glitch – no utility company, i.e., Progress Energy, Duke Power or Old Dominion, wants to buy the power Iberdrola might produce because it is more expensive than they’re paying for conventional power now. So Gov. Perdue is applying political pressure.
In a letter dated Nov. 17 to the power company CEOs, she said, “Developing our green economy is one of the cornerstones of my vision for North Carolina economic future. Projects such as the proposed Desert Wind Power Project by Iberdrola Renewables can help us lay the foundation for North Carolina to lead the nation in clean, homegrown energy. This project would also bring much needed jobs and economic development to the northeastern part of our state.”
Saying Iberdrola has been working over the past year with communities, landowners and government agencies, Gov. Perdue said, “What is urgently needed now, to ensure the viability and long term success, is an agreement with a utility company to purchase the power generated from this landmark project.”
She said the project was expected to bring substantial economic benefits, including 400 jobs during construction, payments close to $1 million per year to landowners over the life of the wind farm and added property tax revenue.
“Fostering the development of clean energy projects is a top priority for me in order to ensure North Carolina is a national leader in the green economy,” she said, adding, “I urge your company to give serious consideration to partnering with Iberdrola Renewables to make the project a reality.”
Iberdrola could accept lower rates, but that would cut into its expected 25% annual profit, on which it aggressively tries to hold the line.
So Gov. Perdue is strong-arming the utilities into accepting high-cost electricity, which would force them to raise rates for all North Carolinians. In doing so, she patterns herself after President Obama.
This will not work. Whoever said, “Wind is free” didn’t know what he was talking about.