In stark contrast to how Beaufort County is dealing with the issue, citizens in Carteret and Craven counties have gotten their county leaders to stop a proposed wind farm new Newport. The Carteret News-Times reported Friday:
Torch Renewable Energy LLC, the Houston-based alternative energy giant, announced Friday it will abandon plans to develop a hybrid wind and solar facility near Mill Pond outside Newport.
“In light of the unlikely prospect of acquiring a variance from the county’s current tall structures ordinance, we have decided not to move forward with the project,” Torch Energy’s vice president of development Rocky Ray said in a prepared release.
The project – which proposed 40 turbines and an array of solar panels in an area in Newport’s extraterritorial jurisdiction – has caused public outcry over the safety, efficiency, economic and military impacts the facility could have on the area.
County commissioners held a public hearing Jan. 2 at the Crystal Coast Civic Center, enacting a moratorium on permitting for wind turbine structures and stalling the proposal in an effort to further investigate repercussions of wind facilities.
“All I can say is that the current ordinance in place had to have factored into their decision,” said Chairman Jonathan Robinson of the announcement. “I’m sure that and the climate and the controversy that surrounded this proposal led to their decision (to terminate).”
Mr. Robinson said he felt the board acted in due diligence imposing the moratorium and would continue to look at the ordinance, despite the project retraction from Torch.
The variances necessary for the project, cited by Torch in the release, are likely alterations to the ordinance’s 3,300-foot setback requirement, said County Manager Russell Overman.
The proposed project would require smaller setbacks to the perimeter to facilitate placement of all 40 of the structures, according to information gleaned by county officials. Mr. Overman said the county was given notice of the dropped proposal Friday afternoon.
Torch Renewable, though in communication with county officials, never submitted an application for permitting of any kind in Carteret County regarding the turbines. An application is on file with the N.C. Utilities Commission.
Several prominent locals have spoken out against the proposal, including Commissioner Robin Comer and Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret.
Additionally, Congressman Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., announced Friday ongoing concerns on the impact turbines would have on National Weather Service radars in the area.
Torch said earlier this month the company was already in mitigation with officials out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point to remedy possible turbine interference with airspace.
“The state of North Carolina and the Department of the Navy have very rigorous processes in place to ensure that no wind farm in any way jeopardizes military activities,” Mr. Ray said in the release. “We were looking forward to working through those processes to bring renewable energy to the region.”
Mr. Robinson said the board will fine tune the ordinance and would be open to other alternative energy proposals, given they do not interfere with Cherry Point.
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John Droz, Jr., a volunteer environmentalist and expert on alternative energy said:
This (Torch’s dropping its plans) came about because of two reasons:
1 – they realized that Newport and Carteret County would definitely impose quality protections for citizens, businesses, the environment and the military, and
2 – they saw that there was very strong community support for those protections.
This was a community victory, and an exceptional example of what can be done when citizens work together in a constructive, effective way.
Before we have an official celebration, we MUST complete the fine effort that we have initiated, by seeing that Newport and Carteret County finish the upgrade for their wind ordinances, including ALL of the Bullet Points.
We are no longer under the gun, but we also need to be better prepared for another such possibility.
Please support those two efforts and to keep informed go to: www.wiseenergy.org
We’d also like to improve H484, Senate Bill 3, and the DOD Clearinghouse process. Three months ago most local citizens had little knowledge of what those things were. Today a lot more do, and I’m hoping that many will join me in working on those important state matters.
Beaufort County has no such protective ordinance.
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