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Critics: Study on NC Wind Farms Full of Hot Air

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Monday, November 13, 2017   

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -- North Carolina's wind farm development is in a holding pattern, with three projects stalled because of legislation passed this summer that places a moratorium on wind farms until the state can study the effects of wind farms on its military installations.

Clean energy advocates counter that the federal government has already conducted studies, in partnership with the communities in the state that would be affected. Katharine Kollins, president of the Southeastern Wind Coalition, said at a time when budgets are tight, another study is a poor use of taxpayers' money.

"It's already done at the federal level. The Department of Defense Siting Clearinghouse does a fantastic job vetting projects already,” Kollins said. "We're wasting all this money at the state level, and it just makes no sense."

The 18-month moratorium and $150,000 study is the result of an add-on by state Sen. Harry Brown to a solar energy bill passed this summer. Brown said the study is needed to ensure the large turbines don't interfere with flight patterns in military exercises.

Eastern North Carolina stands to gain the most from wind power, since landowners can lease land for more money than they can make in farming. Kollins said the potential money generated by the three proposed wind energy projects would be an economic windfall for the eastern half of the state, where many communities are struggling financially.

"We're going to be in a place where we lose the opportunity for hundreds of millions of dollars of investment into North Carolina's rural counties,” she said. "It's an economic boon for rural counties in any state, but especially in North Carolina."

Sen. Brown and several other state GOP lawmakers also oppose the $400 million clean energy project slated to power data centers for Amazon.com, claiming additional studies should be done.

The Pentagon has responded, saying it has studied the region and determined the turbines are unlikely to affect military installations.


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