A representative of Apex Clean Energy told Chowan County officials last week the company expects the Timbermill wind energy project will be up and running by late 2023.
Don Giecek of Apex cited the timetable in a presentation to the Chowan Board of Commissioners at the board’s Aug. 2 meeting.
Although an earlier version of the proposed Timbermill project included sites in Perquimans County, county officials in Perquimans did not approve the Perquimans portion of the project and the current footprint is entirely in Chowan County.
Chowan Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Kirby questioned whether the timetable is realistic.
Noting he is concerned about the project’s timing mainly because it affects Chowan’s planning for tax revenue, Kirby said completing the wind turbines and bringing them online by the end of 2023 seems “very optimistic.”
Natasha Montague, to whom Giecek referred the Perquimans Weekly for follow-up questions, stood by the timetable.
“Yes, we anticipate starting construction near the start of 2023 and for the project to begin operations that winter,” Montague said when asked about the timetable.
Kirby said the proposed turbines are about twice as large as those in the Amazon Wind Farm US East in Perquimans and Pasquotank, and also larger than what was proposed in the conditional use permit application.
“Mr. Giecek stated that although they are larger, they are quieter than the devices used to perform the sound analysis for the CUP,” Kirby said, referring to the conditional use permit. “The CUP does contain safeguards which require Apex to monitor sound if/when the facility is constructed.”
Kirby also noted that it has been more than 56 months since Apex received the CUP but the company still has not applied for all necessary state and federal permits.
“Mr. Giecek went to great lengths to explain that so much of the follow-on permitting hinged on the approval of the site by the FAA (Federal Aviation Agency) and DOD (Department of Defense), especially with respect to the ROTHR (relocatable over-the-horizon radar) facility located in Chesapeake, Virginia,” Kirby said.
Montague said she was not able to respond to questions about the ROTHR review by DOD right now, but added she would be able to comment on it later on.
County officials also expressed concerns about the project’s potential impact on bats and migratory birds.
Kirby, who lives in the Chowan River area, said “we are blessed with a nesting pair of bald eagles just off of our property, and I know that there are more of these magnificent territorial birds living within or very near the proposed vast Timbermill Wind property leasehold area.”
Kirby noted the county permit for the project was slated to expire in May but was extended through a COVID-related executive order by Gov. Roy Cooper.
“We are therefore in a bit of flux over the whole issue of permit timing,” Kirby said.
Montague said the presentation also noted the positive economic impact the project will have.
“Timbermill Wind is expected to generate enough renewable energy to power up to 47,000 homes per year,” Montague said. “During construction, Timbermill Wind will provide a one-time pulse of economic activity in Chowan County that will create 152 local jobs. Once operating, Timbermill will bring up to 11 full-time positions to the community, with annual expenditures for salaries and maintenance of approximately $1 million.
“Timbermill would generate over $30 million in cumulative county tax revenue, plus 30 years of purchasing and employment in the area,” Montague added.
She also noted that $15,000 has been donated this year through the Timbermill Wind Community Grant program to the Boys & Girls Club of the Albemarle, Chowan/Perquimans Smart Start Partnership, Edenton Chowan Educational Foundation, and Edenton Historical Commission.
Chowan Commissioner Ron Cummings said he has two big concerns about the project. One is the potential damage to highways during construction. Apex needs to be responsible for repairing any damage to roads once the project is completed, he said.
Cummings said his other concern is that the contract between the county and Apex needs to protect the county all the way through the de-commissioning of the project.
Kirby said county officials will continue to monitor the project closely.
“Ultimately, it is and remains my stated goal to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Chowan County,” Kirby told the Perquimans Weekly.
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