GOLDSBORO, N.C. – Governor McCrory has vowed to protect the military’s interests against the effects of a proposed wind farm in the East.
For more than two years, a clean energy company in Chicago has been trying to build an 11,000 acre wind farm, consisting of 49 turbines, in Beaufort County north of U.S. 264 between Washington and Pantego.
The company, Invenergy, says the turbines could generate 80 megawatts of power, which is enough electricity to power 15,000 homes.
But Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, 15 nautical miles away, says that could interfere with their F-15 fighter jets’ flight patterns to and from the Dare County Bombing Range.
In New Bern on Tuesday, McCrory said that he will work to ensure there is no encroachment on the air force base’s training area.
In an 18-page report by Seymour Johnson Air Force base, Lt. Col. David Evans wrote that even if every turbine were lit, “an aircraft flying at 500 feet could potentially strike a turbine blade, with the likely loss of two lives and a $31 million irreplaceable combat asset.”
The report continued: “Adding potentially dozens of 498 foot obstacles within a route where thousands of low-altitude high speed military training sorties are flown every year will increase flight risk, especially at night.”
Now local officials are getting involved.
“We’re not opposed to alternative sources of energy, but just locate them in an area that is not a threat to the military,” said Jimmie Edmundson of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce.
In a statement to 9 On Your Side, Invenergy said it takes the air force base’s concerns seriously.
“Rather than continuing to pursue the project as previously proposed, we are conducting a thorough reconsideration of the project site. Invenergy is committed to developing projects compatible with existing local military activity,” the company stated.
But Edmundson says that’s not enough. He says the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce has hired a lawyer to help them introduce legislation to prevent wind turbines from interfering with local military aircraft.
The Chamber of Commerce is also requesting that the North Carolina Utilities Commission to revoke the permit it granted Invenergy in March.
The Pantego Wind Farm project still needs environmental and military approval before it can move forward.
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