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Sandbridge residents oppose high-voltage cables from offshore wind project near Outer Banks  

Credit:  By Stacy Parker | The Virginian-Pilot | Jun 28, 2022 | www.pilotonline.com ~~

VIRGINIA BEACH – A wind energy company’s proposed project off the coast of the Outer Banks is ruffling the feathers of Virginia Beach residents 36 miles to the north who don’t want high-voltage cables in their beachfront neighborhood.

Avangrid Renewables, based in Boston, is still in the early stages of developing its Kitty Hawk Offshore Wind Project. The company plans to build a wind farm 27 miles from Corolla, North Carolina, and is proposing to bring the transmission cables ashore in Sandbridge, a residential and tourist beach community south of the Oceanfront resort area.

The company could route the transmission cables to the Outer Banks, but Sandbridge is the most efficient location.

Avangrid has not obtained the federal, state and local permits needed to proceed with construction yet.

At a meeting earlier this month, members of the Sandbridge Beach Civic League voted unanimously against the project, citing concerns about potential hazards from high-voltage underground cables and electromagnetic fields near their homes, civic league representative Andrew Horne said.

Scientific studies have not clearly shown whether exposure to electromagnetic fields from electrical cables increases cancer risk, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“We are not against clean energy, we just want it done safely,” Horne said. “There’s got to be a better way.”

Under Avangrid’s proposal, several underwater cables would route under a Sandbridge parking lot. The company would then extend the cables underground in the public right-of-way along a route that borders dozens of residential areas and eventually connect to a substation on city-owned land in Corporate Landing Business Park off General Booth Boulevard.

The 2,500 megawatts of electricity generated from the project could power 750,000 homes in Virginia and North Carolina, according to Avangrid, which will pay a lease fee to Virginia Beach of approximately $1 million per cable. Construction could begin by 2024.

The company’s construction plan, currently under federal review, identifies several other options along the North Carolina and Virginia Beach coastlines where the cables could be routed.

But North Carolina’s beaches aren’t stable enough due to erosion and lack sufficient transmission infrastructure. Sandbridge is the company’s preference because it’s the shortest of the northern cable routes and doesn’t cross any existing submarine cables, according to the plan.

Avangrid spokesman Craig Gilvarg wrote in an email that the company identified Sandbridge as a strong option because of its “proximity to transmission infrastructure, sufficient space, and minimal environmental impact.”

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is conducting an environmental review, which is scheduled to be completed by 2024.

Avangrid is continuing to gather public input.

Taylor Adams, Virginia Beach’s director of economic development, briefed the City Council in January about the Sandbridge landing point. Councilwoman Barbara Henley, who represents the Princess Anne District, had questions about the route after landfall.

“We’re at the very beginning of this process,” Adams said at the meeting. “There’s a whole lot of meat on this bone between landing and having a working solution here.”

Henley said this week that questions still remain about Avangrid’s proposal to place cables under established neighborhoods. She’s waiting for the company to provide details of their plans to the city.

“I think they’re ahead of their process,” Henley said. “They haven’t really shown us how they’re going to deal with these impacts.”

Source:  By Stacy Parker | The Virginian-Pilot | Jun 28, 2022 | www.pilotonline.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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