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Exec: Plans for N.C.’s second massive wind farm are moving forward

A few miles south of the sprawling, 104-turbine Amazon wind farm, another utility-scale project is moving forward – despite being denied a critical permit in November.

Don Giecek, senior project developer of Apex Clean Energy, says the farm his firm wants to build in Perquimans and Chowan counties, will move forward on a smaller scale.

While the project scored a conditional use permit in Chowan County, commissioners in Perquimans County (where the Amazon project had already been approved), rejected the application in November after resident outcry over aesthetics and property value concerns. Giecek says that even though legal action is being filed to appeal Perquimans’ decision, the project will move forward in Chowan County.

“The economics regarding a project in one county are very favorable and they’re very good,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

Initially, the project planned to have 105 turbines. Instead, it will have 48, outputting about 165 megawatts annually. For comparison, the Amazon project is expected to output 670,000 megawatts. While there’s still work to do, such as deciding where to locate a substation, the farm could be up and running in late 2018, he says.

He wouldn’t release a groundbreaking date, but said details were still being sorted out. He noted that Apex is still considering potential buyers for the power the site will produce.

And he’s still holding out hope that an appeal will have the project spanning to Perquimans County eventually.

Nearby, developer Iberdrola just installed the 104th and final rotor on its project that spans Perquimans and Pasquotank counties– the state’s first utility-scale wind farm. That project, which will power Amazon Web Services, is expected to be fully operational by the end of the year – something Giecek says he finds encouraging.

“We think that now folks in the community will be able to have a first-hand knowledge of a good wind project, and they will understand the limited impacts that a project like that has on a community … and will understand and come to see the very significant economic impact these projects have.”