Wind: Is it right for us?

 

Wind power offers coastal North Carolina a clean and abundant local source of energy and economic benefits.  But as with any new development, it’s important that wind farms be properly sited.

Fortunately, North Carolina has a wealth of safeguards in place to determine whether or not a proposed wind project is appropriate.

North Carolina has long required that wind developers secure a state Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Utilities Commission. In considering the application, the Utilities Commission will consider the costs/benefits of the project, the need for electricity in the area among other factors.


Permitting Process

 

And in 2013, North Carolina added a new, comprehensive permitting requirement.   As signed into law by Gov. McCrory, H 484, Permitting of Wind Facilities, requires wind developers to get a permit from the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Every project must go through a thorough review process before a permit can be issued.  Here is some of what is required:

  • pre-application site evaluation meeting with DEQ to determine if proposed wind energy facility sites pose a serious risk to civil air navigation, military activities, or natural resources.

  • pre-application package to DEQ that includes a narrative description and map of the proposed facility, a description of potential impacts to civil air navigation, military activities, or natural resources, and a timetable for development through commercial operation.

  • request a scoping meeting with DEQ to review the proposed permit within 30 days of filing the permit application.

This is just the start.  Any project would have a lot to prove before steel meets the ground.  DEQ can deny a permit for many reasons including:

  • Result in significant adverse impacts to natural resources, fish, wildlife, or views from state or national parks and other areas with high recreational values.

  • Obstruct major navigation channels.

  • Be denied based on criteria under the Coastal Area Management Act or prohibited under the Mountain Ridge Protection Act.

  • Not comply with all applicable federal, State, or local permitting requirements, licenses, or approvals, including local zoning requirements.

 And, the law requires that wind developers have financial assurance in the event of decommissioning:

  • The law requires the applicant or permit holder to establish financial assurance that ensures funds are available for decommissioning the facility and reclamation of the property to its condition prior to commencement of activities on site.


The Military Has a Say

 

In addition to the sign-offs required by the NC Public Utilities Commission and DEQ, the Department of Defense Clearing House has the authority to prevent construction projects that would frustrate training exercises.  

  • DoD Clearinghouse mission statement: “Protect the DoD’s mission capabilities from incompatible energy development by collaborating with the DoD Components and external stakeholders to prevent, minimize, or mitigate adverse impacts on military readiness and operations, including test and evaluation activities.”
Photo Credit: Southeastern Wind Coalition 

Photo Credit: Southeastern Wind Coalition 

The Amazon Wind project was approved after a DoD mission compatibility evaluation process: “The DoD’s mission compatibility evaluation process provides a timely, transparent, and science-based analysis to identify the mission impacts from energy development projects in order to prevent, minimize, or mitigate adverse impacts on military readiness and operations, including test and evaluation activities.”

The Department of Defense has requisitioned the deployment of 3 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy to power military facilities by 2025.  This meets a larger DoD mandate, Title 10 USC § 2911, which directs at least 25% of any DoD facility energy consumption come from renewable energy sources. These goals were set because of increasing energy distribution costs, foreign oil dependency, the threat of energy supply disruptions and the need for more secure and clean energy generation and distribution.

Find out more information about the military and wind energy by visiting the Southeastern Wind Coalition's factsheet