A company that wants to operate a wind farm in eastern North Carolina must do an environmental impact study before the North Carolina Department of Commerce will approve its application for a permit to build 49 wind turbines on 11,000 acres in northern Beaufort County.
The agency has crafted a “joint-proposed order” to allow Panteo Wind Energy, a subsidiary of the Chicago-based Invenergy, to permit the construction if the EIS does not turn up any major problems.
The agency has also handed evaluation of the EIS to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Opponents of the proposed wind-farm cite the failure of other such facilities to create affordable energy, as well as the potential damage to the environment – especially with the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and its thousands of waterfowl, plus federally protected bald eagles, within a few miles of the site.
“I’ve seen thousands of (tundra) swans and geese landing at the (proposed wind-farm site) to feed,” said Joe Albea, who produces and photographs two outdoors-related television shows on UNC-TV. “Who knows how many birds the windmill blades would kill?”
John Droz Jr., a Morehead City physicist, has conducted extensive studies of wind farms. He is not, pun intended, a fan.
“The only legitimate reason industrial wind power should exist today is for it to live up to its promoter’s assurances that it will meaningfully help reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. “However, in almost all cases, wind-power development is instead sold to a community based on the financial incentives offered by the developers.”
One of PWE’s big sales points to Beaufort County is that it will receive a huge boost in tax revenues, and that residents who sell land to be used in the wind-farm site will receive millions of dollars.
“Whether an alternative/renewable is acceptable is a highly technical matter that should be decided on the basis of a comprehensive, independent, objective and transparent evaluation of three key conditions: its technical performance, the economics of the power produced and its full environmental impact,” Droz said. “All independent evidence to date indicates industrial wind power fails on all three of these critical counts.”
Droz cites dozens of studies that show wind power, while promoted tirelessly as “green,” hasn’t worked out well for the environment, taxpayers or as a significant power generator when the bottom line is calculated.
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