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Second giant wind farm in eastern North Carolina nears permit approval

An effort to approve plans to bring a second massive wind farm to eastern North Carolina is nearing its conclusion.

If given the final stamp by officials, the 105-turbine, 17,000-acre Timbermill Wind project could begin construction in 2018 in Chowan and Perquimans counties, just a few miles away from a similarly sized project already underway – the Amazon wind farm near Elizabeth City.

Already, Timbermill’s Virginia-based developer, Apex Clean Energy, has been in months of discussions with officials from both counties. Conditional use permits (CUP) are the among the last pieces of paperwork required for Apex to really get started, Don Giecek, senior business development manager has said. While other regulatory hurdles exist, such as approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, without the CUP, the project would be stalled indefinitely.

Commissioners in Chowan County officially approved a CUP last week for Timbermill. They’re preparing to vote on the official order for the permit Monday. And in nearby Perquimans County, testimony regarding the CUP has concluded, with deliberations set to begin next week.

Apex has said the project would mean at least 150 full-time jobs during construction, though many of those positions would not be local. Long-term, Apex expects to accommodate 10 permanent full-time jobs in areas such as operations and maintenance.

Nearby, the Amazon wind farm has provided an economic boost – one Apex points to when arguing for its own project. With the Amazon development, more than $13.5 million has been spent with local suppliers and vendors, not including employee spending at hotels, restaurants or other businesses, according to Apex.

But even with that infusion, critics of the project are vocal. Nearby residents’ concerns include aesthetics, shadow flicker, bird strikes and flightpaths. Apex has said consistently that they’re trying to be transparent about the process and mitigate those concerns.

Timbermill, once complete, could provide up to 300 megawatts of power, enough to power about 60,000 homes.