Albemarle Sound will be the home of the first wind farm in the state of North Carolina, as well as one of the first in the southeast. Wayne Harris, Director of the Albemarle Economic Development Commission, based in Elizabeth City says it’s a win/win project for the area:
“Naturally, we’re delighted that that’s happening, and frankly, it was a pleasant surprise for us. As recently as a couple of years ago, the conventional wisdom was that there was not enough wind on-shore, anywhere except the mountains where wind towers are not welcome in North Carolina to justify the capital investment.”
While it was generally thought that wind generated power would never come to the state, Harris says a couple of things changed in the past couple of years to spark the interest of Iberdrola Renewables, headquartered in Portland, Oregon the company constructing the wind farm :
“Several things changed in the past couple of years, one was a 30% Department of Energy tax credit that was part of the stimulus package, so that changes the economics. Another positive factor, was the portfolio standard adopted by North Carolina requiring them to obtain 12, or maybe 12 and a half percent of their energy portfolio from either renewable resources, or energy savings.”
As well as the fact that wind turbines have become more powerful and efficient in recent years. The construction phase of the 100-150 towers will create around 400 jobs, but once the wind farm is in place, the economic stimulus from jobs will drop dramatically to around 15. Harris says that another part of the win/win equation is the minimal disruption to the area’s agricultural base:
“And the other thing that really makes wind unique, particularly for an area like ours, where agriculture is so important, is it actually strengthens our agricultural base because it enables the farmers that own that land to continue to farm everything but a very small area immediately around the tower, and they’ll have the added income of the tower rent, which is estimated to be about $6,000 per tower.”
It is estimated that less than 2% of agricultural land will be lost to the wind farm. It is estimated that the farm will generate enough electricity to power up to 70,000 homes.
Iberdrola Renewables was granted the first phase of the permitting process on Tuesday, May 3rd.
Read more about how to bring wind power to your farm...