In a move that seemingly has no other intention but to hamper economic growth and ban the development of clean energy, North Carolina legislators seek to place a moratorium on new wind farm permits through 2018.
CleanTechnica’s Tina Casey reported on this earlier this month, but the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), which described the move as a decision to “kill opportunity for economic growth,” have also this week hit out at the move. The specifics of the move are that North Carolina legislators are seeking to place a moratorium on new wind farm permits through 2018, as part of a last-minute amendment to North Carolina House Bill 589 — a wide-ranging energy bill. All that now awaits the implementation of this bill is the final decision from North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.
The moratorium is described as necessary in the House bill “to consider the impact of future wind energy facilities and energy infrastructure on military operations, training, and readiness.” The moratorium is back-dated to January 1, 2017, and would be in effect until December 31, 2018. There are two minor exceptions that vaguely mitigate the severity of the move, but serve only to increase the bureaucratic red-tape that is necessary for a wind farm to proceed.
Senator Harry Brown, the Senate Majority Leader and author of the moratorium and study requirement, said that he introduced the legislation because he is concerned the Department of Defense could shut down and relocate military bases if they are impinged upon by wind farms. “My intent is to protect these military bases that drive our economy in eastern North Carolina,” Brown said. “I can’t imagine a 1 1/2-year setback would make a difference to these projects, unless they know they would interfere with military flight patterns.”
However, as pointed out by the AWEA, there is already in place “a robust review process to ensure wind farms don’t impact military base operations,” essentially negating the need for any State-specific legislation or studies, and undermining the validity of the North Carolina motives.
“We’re calling on Governor Cooper to veto this bill due to the unnecessary, anti-business regulation slipped in at the final moment. If the bill stands, it will cast a shadow on North Carolina, a state currently on the leading edge of wind energy development in the Southeast,” said Andrew Gohn, Eastern Region Policy Director for the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “North Carolina had just made a big step forward completing its first major wind energy project, one of the very first in the Southeast, bringing jobs and millions in private investment with it. Other North Carolina wind projects are close behind, but this moratorium will send their investment to other states who welcome economic growth.”
Further, two proposed wind farms originally set to be built in North Carolina are now at risk, with their developers warning that they will likely pull out of the state if the moratorium is made law. The two wind farms are the 300 MW/$300 million Timbermill Wind project, proposed for Chowan County, and the $200 million Little Alligator wind farm, proposed for Tyrrel County. In emailed statements to news outlets, both developers have hit out at the moratorium, with Timbermill developer Apex CEO Mark Goodwin saying it “jeopardizes hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in rural economies.” British energy firm Renewable Energy Systems, the developer behind Little Alligator, says that the moratorium “raises serious questions that must be clarified about the Legislature’s long term intention, before development investments can continue.”
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