Regarding the Mill Pond facility, aka, the Newport industrial wind project, like most everything else, even the name of this project is misleading. The developer, Torch Renewable Energy LLC, doesn’t want to use “wind turbine” or “wind energy” in its marketing which would make it sound industrial — which it is.
On Tuesday, Nov. 26, a meeting was held at Ft. Benjamin Park in Newport to provide Carteret County residents information on the proposed Mill Pond Facility windmill project. Over 100 people attended the meeting, including two county commissioners. Where were the other five commissioners?
This is a pertinent question because of the majority of the 450-foot tall windmills proposed in Phase I of the project, 25 would be built outside the Newport town limits making them the responsibility of the county. That means most of the proposed windmills would be governed by county regulations, and the town of Newport ordinances would govern the remaining wind turbines.
This project affects more than just the town of Newport. Most who live in Harlowe, Mill Creek and Morehead City will see and hear direct impacts from this project. Everyone in Carteret County may see additional charges on your electric bill to subsidize these windmills. But ask who will actually receive this wind-generated electricity? Most likely, high populated areas of central North Carolina, not the rate payers in Carteret County. So rate payers in Carteret County may pay out of their pockets to subsidize electric rates for the people in Raleigh? Unacceptable!
At least one of the Carteret County commissioners has been reported on several occasions to boast that Carteret County has the strictest regulations in the state for windmill construction and operation. “Measured against what?” is one follow-up question. Since over 90% of the state’s counties have insufficient wind for windmill operation, few counties in the state even have regulations for wind turbine construction and operation. So it’s not hard to live up to the commissioner’s claims. However, a chart presented at the recent meeting showed that the county’s regulations are sorely lacking in the areas of property value protection, acoustic regulations, environmental protections, etc. The county’s Tall Structures ordinance that was recently passed actually reduced the regulations on the developer (e.g. indemnification is no longer required, liability insurance is no longer required, etc). How is this to our benefit?
At the Nov. 18, Board of Commissioner’s meeting, the question was asked of the county attorney about the possibility of banning wind turbines, but some commissioners are citing a response to this question by the county attorney as the basis for having lax county regulations to protect county residents and taxpayers from litigation.
This is not about banning industrial wind energy. It is about protecting the people of Carteret County. It is about preventing damage to Carteret County’s environment (birds and decommissioning costs), protecting the health and safety of those who live here (noise), making sure our county’s tourism business is not damaged (scenic appeal and noise), keeping jobs at Cherry Point (radar and flight paths), protecting property values and the county tax base.
Torch Renewable Energy LLC and Duke Energy do not need special considerations from Carteret County. The residents do. It’s time for the county commissioners to step up to protect the interest of the citizens of Carteret County.