November 17, 2016
North Carolina

Denied: N.C. county rejects plans for massive wind farm

Lauren K. Ohnesorge, Staff Writer | Triangle Business Journal | Nov 16, 2016 |

Plans for a second massive wind farm in eastern North Carolina have hit a major snag.

Perquimans County, one of two counties the 105-turbine farm was planned to span, has denied the project a conditional-use permit. Commissioners there voted 3-2, while nearby Chowan County gave Charlottesville, Va.-based Apex Clean Energy (ACE) unanimous approval for the project.

In total, 57 turbines were proposed for Perquimans County; 48 in Chowan County.

Don Giecek, ACE’s project lead, declined to answer questions about the project’s future. But there are options, such as appealing the county’s permit refusal in court or altering its plans and going through the permitting process again. Or ACE could just build the 48 turbines approved in Chowan County.

Giecek released a statement this week, saying his team was “disappointed” in the decision but still committed to bringing wind energy to northeastern North Carolina.

“According to the county’s own outside consultant, our application satisfied all of the requirements in the county ordinance and our plan exceeded all of the ordinance’s health and safety measures,” his prepared statement reads. “Wind energy is one of the safest forms of electricity generation and the region is already seeing the economic benefits a project can bring in terms of local spending, construction jobs and tax revenue. We do have an approved permit in Chowan County and are evaluating options for moving forward.”

When Giecek refers to “economic benefits,” he’s talking about the nearby Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) wind farm that’s under construction in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties. That project is nearing completion and, while it has received some criticism from nearby residents regarding aesthetics and noise potential, many local farmers who have leased land for the farm say its benefits already are numerous. In addition to lease revenue, the project has meant the construction of several roads that, besides allowing developers access to turbines, give farmers better access to their crops.

Frank Heath, county manager for Perquimans, says most of the concerns expressed by residents this time around came down to “property values and harmony.”

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