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Kitty Hawk wants offshore turbines out of sight

The Kitty Hawk Town Council has made a plea to the federal government to keep any offshore wind energy project at least 20 miles off its beaches.

The appeal comes on the heels of a federally-led request for proposals by commercial wind developers to lease an area 6 miles off Kitty Hawk’s shores. Two other potential leases involve areas 7 and 13 miles off southern Wilmington.

The town appeal, in the form of a resolution, also requests that municipal leaders be involved in any conversation regarding transmission lines coming ashore.

Mayor Pro Tem Gary Perry initiated the request in the form of a resolution last month.

“The federal government is going to do whatever they want, but if we give them a perimeter, they may listen,” Perry said in an interview.

Perry was a member of former N.C. Governor Beverly Perdue’s Scientific Advisory Panel on Offshore Energy.

Town officials last year balked at a proposal by shipbuilder Northop Grumman and Gamesa USA Energy to erect an experimental windmill farm a half-mile off of the town’s shores. The companies later abandoned the idea, Perry said.

Aesthetics and long-term maintenance concerns were among the reasons the council rejected the idea then.

The two companies then looked at the construction of a 500-foot-tall wind turbine near the University of North Carolina’s Coastal Studies Institute in Skyco. According to CSI education associate David Sybert and Dare County Planning Director Donna Creef, there are no plans for that project to move forward.

The U.S. Department of Interior announced late last year its intent in seeking proposals for the offshore wind farms as well as public comment on offshore wind energy projects along the North Carolina coast. The three areas, the one on the Outer Banks and two off Wilmington, total 1, 441 square nautical miles.

Gov. Pat McCrory recently wrote in a letter to the department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management saying that he backed its wind energy initiative in North Carolina. In the letter, he cited a statistic made by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory showing the state could potentially reel in $22 billion to its economy with wind projects, along with 10,000 jobs.

Representatives for Northop Grumman and Gamesa USA Energy could not be reached for comment.