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NC Wind Moratorium Faces Blowback from Advocates

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Onshore wind farms offer a source of income for many of North Carolina's rural communities where the farming industry is struggling. (Jeff Kubina/Flickr)
Onshore wind farms offer a source of income for many of North Carolina's rural communities where the farming industry is struggling. (Jeff Kubina/Flickr)
July 25, 2017

RALEIGH, N.C. – The wind energy potential for North Carolina may be stunted by a bill that now sits on Gov. Roy Cooper's desk for a signature.

House Bill 589 includes an 18-month moratorium on on-shore wind development - which opponents say could have devastating effects on the industry.

Katharine Kollins, the president of the Southeastern Wind Coalition says it's important to note that the original intention of the bill was to allow for further solar development and the moratorium was only added at the last minute by State Senator Harry Brown of Jacksonville.

"He added the wind moratorium to legislation he knew was extremely popular among a large number of stakeholders and that they wouldn't be willing to ditch nine months worth of negotiations just to avoid the wind moratorium," she says.

State Sen. Brown says wind projects could threaten the state's military installations by interfering with operations and communications. Currently, any proposed wind projects go through rigorous vetting by the military.

HB 589 increases the state's solar capacity to 6,800 megawatts by 2022 and saves ratepayers $849 million over the next 10 years. North Carolina is home to the country's second largest solar market.

Kollins says onshore wind has been a saving grace for many of eastern North Carolina's farming communities, where land owners can often make more money leasing to a wind farm, than operating their traditional farm.

"The people that this affects, are rural communities, primarily in eastern North Carolina," she explains. "That's where the vast majority of the wind development and the wind resource has been concentrated so far and those communities are nearly all some of the lowest income counties in the state."

Gov. Cooper has one week to sign or veto the legislation. If he does neither it will automatically become law.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC