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Review of regulations for wind turbines continues despite end of wind energy project in Carteret

BEAUFORT – While a Texas-based alternative energy company has pulled its plans for a project in Carteret County, a review of the county’s regulations for wind turbines is continuing as planned.

A 60-day moratorium on the issuance on permits for wind energy projects was enacted in January by the Carteret County Board of Commissioners to give the county time to review and possibly revise its tall structures ordinance.

The planning staff is scheduled to have proposed changed to the planning board by its Feb. 10 meeting and recommendations then head to the county commissioners for approval.

The moratorium expires March 2.

“The process will continue. We’re looking over the ordinance, and I’m sure some changes will be made,” Carteret County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jonathan Robinson said.

Regulations regarding the location of wind turbines in Carteret County have been in the spotlight since late last year as concerns were raised by the public over a proposal by Torch Renewable Energy to locate a wind and solar facility outside Newport.

Torch Renewable announced Friday that it will no longer pursue plans for the Carteret County project known as the Mill Pond Wind Project.

The company indicated that it had hoped to continue working with state and federal officials on issues to eliminate impact to military activities in the area but cited the county regulations as the reason for its decision.

Specifically, Torch said it is not likely that the company would be able to obtain the variance needed from the county to complete the project.

County Manager Russell Overman noted that the company had never submitted an application for a permit from the county for the project. However, from conversations with them, they indicated they would need a variance under current regulations.

Because part of the proposed project would have been in the Town of Newport’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, Torch Renewable would also have needed permits from the town.

Because there were never applications made to the state or local governments, the Mill Pond project proposal never went through a formal review process.

Carteret County has had a tall structures ordinance in place for five years and was among the first in the state to establish regulations specific to the location of wind turbines in the county.

The ordinance is a good one but the concerns over the Mill Pond project have raised questions; and it is worth looking over the regulations again, Robinson said.

“The ordinance has been in place five years and it’s time to revisit it,” he said.