Category Archives: ENERGY

Southeast’s largest wind energy project to encounter turbulence

General Assembly’s letter urges Trump to adopt ‘get tough’ stance

By John Droz Jr. | News Analysis

PERQUIMANS & PASQUOTANK — The current methodology of coming up with our national technical policies is fundamentally flawed. An instructive case is what transpired with the large Desert Wind/Amazon project, currently being built in Perquimans and Pasquotank counties of northeastern North Carolina.

Here are some unsurprising results of a self-serving lobbyist-driven energy policy:

One, the Obama administration’s position appears to be that promotion of industrial wind energy is more important than maintaining our military missions, assuring military readiness, and/or protecting the lives of military personnel.

As evidence, consider that the Department of Defense ‘Wind Clearinghouse’ has been given more than 5000

cases where there is some type of conflict between a proposed wind project and a military facility. Only once was a wind project cancelled.

Two, the primary justification for this aggressive wind energy promotion is that wind energy supposedly plays an integral role in reducing climate change. However, this marketing claim does not hold up under careful

scrutiny. The fact is that there is zero scientific proof that wind energy makes any consequential contribution to alleviating climate change.

Three, few people have any idea what a ROTHR, or Relocatable Over-the-Horizon Radar facility is, or the important role it plays in protecting our national security.  There are only two in the continental U.S. – and one lies on the Virginia – North Carolina border, mere miles from the Desert Wind project. Electromagnetic interference and effects associated with wind farms can impact proper functioning of the ROTHR.

Four, in its zeal to promote renewable energy, the current administration appears to knowingly have agreed to compromise our national security. They were aware of the serious potential risks the Desert Wind/Amazon

project could have on the ROTHR facility, yet choose to play them down.

Five, in their one-sided commitment to promote wind energy, the current administration did not take some reasonable precautions in this situation, that would have better protected our national security.

Example #1: Did they insist that the Desert Wind project be moved just 20-plus miles away to protect our national security? No. (This might have been a nuisance to the developer, but not an insurmountable problem. Who should be inconvenienced here: The wind developer or our military?) Example #2: Did they have any provisions in the Department of Defense – Developer Agreement that would automatically shut down nearby wind turbines that caused a major disruption in the ROTHR signal? No.

Six, this wind project was pushed through the NC “approval” process without  any NC statewide wind energy rules or regulations being applied. (That situation has since been corrected with passed NC legislation.)

Seven, due to this lack of oversight, a lawsuit was filed to require that reasonable wind energy rules and regulation be applied to this wind project, and not let this wind project get approved on a technicality. The state attorney general (and now Governor-elect) Roy Cooper fought against independent environmental tests (and a military assessment) being done, and he won. So consider that irony: Governor-elect Cooper is the highest “progressive” person in NC, yet he led the fight against a reasonable environmental assessment to protect the state’s ecosystems.

Eight, the main argument made by the promoters of this wind project is that it will be an economic boon to a depressed rural area of North Carolina. Fact 1: Our electrical energy sources are not selected due to the economic effects on a host community. Instead our electrical energy sources are chosen based on their reliability, true cost to ratepayers & taxpayers, proximity to demand centers, dispatchability, etc. Wind energy fairs poorly on all such metrics — which is why wind proponents try the sleight-of-hand tactic to talk instead about local property tax payments, local lease payments, etc. Fact 2: The reality is that the Desert Wind project is likely to be a substantial negative financial drain on local economies. One estimate, made by independent experts, puts the figure at a net loss of $11 Million, per year! Why don’t wind proponents ever show an objective, NET local financial impact?

Nine, the electricity economics of this project were so bad, that all three utility companies (Duke, Progress and Dominion) declined to buy its power. The NC Democrat Governor (at the time) followed the national lead and interceded, attempting to cajole the utilities to accept this higher-cost electricity. To their credit, the utilities refused to pay for this expensive electricity.

The only way this project survived was because Amazon stepped in to buy the expensive Desert Wind electricity. Even though Amazon was alerted to the national security issue involved here, they chose to look

away. This appears to be a classic example of greenwashing!

Ten, it is with the knowledge of these matters that the leaders of the NC General Assembly have formally appealed to the new Trump administration to intervene, in an effort to protect our national security.

Congressman Walter Jones (co-chair of the House Armed Services Committee) wrote a good cover letter in support of the NC Legislators’excellent correspondence – which reprinted here as an addendum to this story.

Has there ever been an example where state legislative leaders have officially gone on record to ask the federal government to come in and shut down a wind project? No! Kudos to the NC state legislators for

taking a principled stand on a VERY important matter.

Walter B Jones Letter

General Assembly’s letter

Southeast’s largest wind farm gets first turbine

Controversial project near Elizabeth City to supply electricity for Amazon

A large crane puts the finishing touches Tuesday afternoon on a massive wind turbine – the first of many more planned for a large tract along the border of Perquimans and Pasquotank counties.

A large crane puts the finishing touches Tuesday afternoon on a massive wind turbine – the first of many more planned for a large tract along the border of Perquimans and Pasquotank counties.

 

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

NORTHEASTERN N.C. — As we all know, wind energy has been a highly divisive project in eastern North Carolina. The citizens of Perquimans County have fought vehemently against the construction of wind energy facilities and have sought to deny developers the conditional use permit from the county that would allow the project to go forward.

Perquimans County was in the forefront of this battle because the Amazon Wind Energy Project was to be constructed on land bordering both Pasquotank and Perquimans Counties. Chowan County was somewhat behind in its approval process because the developer, Apex Development, had filed for approvals after those of Iberdrola Renewables.

After several months of wrangling, including legal filings by multiple plaintiffs in Wake County Court, and the Office of Administrative Hearings, the plaintiffs have reached the end of this divisive process and the Amazon project has proceeded with construction.

Blades for the turbines are massive.

Blades for the turbines are massive.

Plaintiffs GiGiBadawi and Steve Owens had received some initial encouragement with their lawsuit, stating that the Department of Natural Resources had erred in the state agency’s determination that the project could proceed as originally submitted, even though the positions of wind turbines had been changed from the original filing.

However, when the case got into Wake County Court, the judge ruled against the plaintiffs and in favor of defendants Amazon Wind and DENR.

The basis of the lawsuit was that changes had been made, which would therefore require that the new site plan would need to be reviewed to make certain that no violations had taken place – that might be materially adverse to the plaintiffs. These plaintiffs sought to prove that wind energy was contrary to the interests of the county, which is supposed to provide for the health, safety and welfare of its citizens.

A tower requires many components.

A tower requires many components.

But the court failed to see the merits as sufficient to stop the project from going forward.

The plaintiffs in the meantime (while the case was going through the courts) sought to appeal to the Perquimans County planning board and to the Commissioners directly to require the developer to provide a setback for each industrial wind turbine, away from residential structures.

However, the planning board and county commissioners seem to be more interested in protecting the interests of the wind energy developer than in protecting the interests of the citizens to whom they were sworn to serve.

The result? Three candidates have filed for two of the open County Commissioner seats – that of the chairwoman and of one commissioner, neither of whom seeking reelection!

Parts and pieces are strewn throughout the site.

Parts and pieces are strewn throughout the site.

As one of these new candidates stated: “You elect people to represent you and have belief that they are looking out for your interest. But when you find that that is not the case, the only choice remaining is to seek correction and have a Board of Commissioners that is responsive to the citizens.”

In the case of Perquimans County, they had a room full of opponents that overflowed into the hallway — all of whom were distressed that the construction of Industrial Wind Energy turbines would change the nature of their ability to enjoy their property.

In fact, Ms. Badawi stated that if she and her husband had known that wind energy turbines would be constructed adjacent to their home, they would have never decided to retire to Perquimans County.

Nevertheless, the citizens lost out to a group of County Commissioners who were more interested in the revenue from this project than from any other single consideration. The same considerations as just stated were evident in the attempts by the citizens of Chowan County to stop this development from proceeding.

The Commissioners seem to be intent on proceeding with the issuance of a conditional use permit as well, but it does seem unlikely that the permit will be issued prior to the November election when several anti-wind candidates are seeking election to a number of open Commissioner Seats.

Construction of wind turbines is well underway in Pasquotank County. The commissioners there were likewise interested in the tax revenue that would be derived from the project — rather than the interests of the citizen group who opposed it.

More solar on horizon — Alliance targeted

Small town sets hearing for Aug. 8

From lower left: Town clerk Linda Marshall, mayor Frank Willis, and commissioners Will Riggs and Louis Daniels.

From lower left: Town clerk Linda Marshall, mayor Frank Willis, and commissioners Will Riggs and Louis Daniels.

ALLIANCE – Not quite a critic but definitely a skeptic, Louis Daniels is one elected official who wants to see all of the details about any proposed solar farm for his close knit, micro small community.

The town, which straddles Highway 55 in Pamlico County, has no zoning and few, if any, land use regulations.
Typically, local governance here is LAID BACK (with a capital L).

That would seem to make a 50-acre farm field, which lies just inside the town limits (and within easy view of the Alliance Town Hall) easy pickings for ESA Renewables, a Sanford, Fla. based solar developer.

“We don’t know jack about this,” said an exasperated Daniels on Monday night — during the town’s regularly scheduled once-per-month meeting. Later Daniels asked: “Just how much radiation will be put out if the site is destroyed by a hurricane or whatever? No one knows!”

In an e-mail sent to Alliance Mayor Frank Willis, the town’s contracted attorney said zoning is the first line of defense for a typical municipality – but in Alliance zoning is something that Daniels and his predecessors on the town board have refused to consider.

“When you say zoning,” explained Daniels, “well, we all know it takes away a lot of people’s rights.”

In a unanimous vote, the Alliance town board voted to set a public hearing for Tuesday, Aug. 8, to consider a proposed town ordinance, setting guidelines and regulations for any future solar farms.

Daniels plans to do his part to publicize the crucial public hearing.

“I intend to personally put a copy of the public notice on every door in the Town of Alliance,” he said.

Solar Farms headed our way

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(Click to enlarge)

PAMLICO COUNTY – Two limited liability companies with ties to Santa Monica, Calif.-based Cypress Creek Renewables will soon break ground on large tracts (one behind Food Lion in Grantsboro, and the other near the DPD Concrete Plant in Alliance) in order to construct massive solar-powered generating facilities. Known as Anjuna Solar and Coogee Solar, the operations each have a 35-year lease on their respective locations, and will sell power to Duke Energy Progress. Each facility is expected to cost approximately $10 million with an anticipated output of 10.5 million kilowatt-hours per year.

Industrial Wind Turbines: Pro and Con

amplitude-modulationClick on image to enlarge
By John Woodard and John Droz | Special to the County Compass

EDENTON – This community hosted a free educational event Saturday, Nov. 22, organized by local residents to explore the consequences of Industrial Wind Turbines, which have been proposed for the northeast corner of North Carolina.

The meeting included an award-winning movie (Windfall), and the co-author of this article, John Droz, served as the morning’s moderator. Droz is a retired physicist and long-time environmentalist, who contends that wind energy – as currently developed in this country – is a net economic loss to the nation as a whole.

In North Carolina, the driving force behind such projects is the 2007 law called “Senate Bill 3,” passed during Gov. Perdue’s administration when Democrats were in control of the state House and state Senate.

After the General Assembly shifted to Republican control, House Bill 298 was introduced to correct the mistakes of existing law. Last year, that bill died without being adopted, but it is certain to be bought up again in the coming Legislative session. In the meantime, advocates such as Mr. Droz have been speaking out and as more is known, the adoption of the House bill seems to have a much better chance of passage.

Presently there are wind projects proposed in Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Tyrrell and Beaufort Counties. The elected Commissioners in each county are becoming more familiar with the various elements, pro and con.

In Edenton at the Nov. 22 gathering, Chowan County citizens attending were proactive in their consideration of information presented. The meeting had a large turnout, including Commissioners from Perquimans and Tyrrell Counties. The overall sentiment of those in the audience appeared to be that communities should pass a protection-oriented wind ordinance.

Some citizens said they wanted to study the issue in detail while one questioned why some European Countries seem to be more favorable — which was disputed by others in the audience.

The movie was a real-life documentary about citizens in a rural upstate New York community who dealt with a proposed Wind Energy project. The project was initially supported by most citizens as a good thing. However, as people began to understand the implications, differences began to develop that pitted neighbor against neighbor, as well as citizens against some of their elected leaders.

After a period of a year or so of disagreement, the local officials who were supporting the wind project were all voted out of office.

In his remarks, Droz urged county residents to make their decisions based upon “the science and facts” — not the rosy projects of marketers, who have come to these counties to sell their projects. Their motivations are based on favorable wind energy treatment that their very effective lobbyists have arranged. A good example is the generous federal subsidies that (per unit of electricity) — are almost a hundred times higher than what conventional electricity sources get.

The citizens in the video were critical of the Wind Energy salespeople who seemed to prey upon poor counties where the community leaders could be easily swayed by the financial considerations in their area (“found money”) — and not take the time to study the serious adverse effects (like extensive wildlife killings, significant environmental destruction, human health concerns, real estate value loss, etc.).

Mr. Droz showed slides indicating that there is no-Net benefit to the community from these projects. For example the agricultural loss to each of these counties due to their proposed wind projects could be several million dollars per year.

At present, there are over 20 states (including NC) with laws that are friendly to these developers. However, the turbines can be as tall as 600 feet — which is 50 feet taller than the highest building in Raleigh, or roughly the same height as the Washington Monument. As people learn more about all the details, opposition appears to be growing.

The Windfall film suggested that wind turbines have serious health and financial implications — so local citizens need to understand all the details, before their elected leaders make a 20-year commitment to proceed. To research this important community matter further, please go to the WiseEnergy.org.

Once there click on “NC” at the top menu bar. It will be worth your time.

Wind energy ‘economic loser’

By John Droz Jr. | Special to the County Compass

wind-farmEditor’s note: Mr. Droz, a physicist and environmental advocate who lives in Morehead City, writes frequently about wind energy. Here, he replies to a commentary, which recently appeared in this newspaper.

BEAUFORT COUNTY — I commend Beaufort County Commissioner Hood Richardson for recently expressing his opinions about the proposed Pantego industrial wind project. This is an extremely significant Beaufort County matter, and the decision about accepting it should indeed be made on the facts.

My position is simply this: When faced with such important technical matters, county representatives should thoroughly and objectively look at the Big Picture.

Let’s review some aspects of his article that need a bit of clarification:

1 – Mr. Richardson rightly said that there would be some tax money from this development, coming to the county. The first point is that there is absolutely zero dollars guaranteed here. What the developer has said so far is all sales talk. In other communities that wind developers have gone to, developers have ALWAYS finagled a deal with the legislators (e.g. a PILOT) whereby they pay significantly less property taxes than their actual valuation warrants.

2 – More importantly, an objective Big Picture financial analysis is that the NET money coming to the community will be a LOSS. This was explained to the Commissioners over two years ago, and it is based on studies done by independent experts. I have not received scientific information from any Beaufort County Commissioner that disputes the validity of what was presented to them.

3 – The exact same things apply to the job claims: For several reasons, there will be a NET jobs LOSS for the community, due to the Pantego wind project. Why would any Commissioner support a NET LOSS project?

4 – Industrial wind is not “green energy.” That is a marketing slogan made up by the developer and their supporters, which is simply not true. The environmental downsides from the manufacture, assembly and operation of wind turbines are significant. For example, a species extinction expert concludes that wind energy is “among the most destructive” contributors to killing threatened wildlife. There is no confusion here at all: True environmentalists acknowledge these realities, and oppose such industrial wind development.

5 – Mr. Richardson says that this is a “property rights issue.” Do property owners have a right to make a buck while the rest of the community loses money paying for it? Do property owners have a right to make a buck by harming the health of nearby residents? Do property owners have a right to make a buck by undermining the local environment? We are all part of the “community” so we need to make decisions based on what is good for the community as a whole (again the Big Picture).

6 – Mr. Richardson wrote: “John Droz criticizes the Public Utilities Commission for not making a strong case against wind mills… It is not up to this public agency to set policy or to try to defy the legislature.” What he is confused about is that my criticism was primarily against the NCUC Public Staff. This is a special part of the NCUC, which is hired for ONE reason: To represent the NC public. They have zero obligation to satisfy political agendas. Their job is to bjectively speak about such issues as true costs, reliability, etc. When it came to the Pantego application, they did NONE of that.

7 – The Department of Defense Clearinghouse has one primary goal: To promote wind energy. A careful reading of their authorization makes it clear that it is NOT their priority to prevent military base operational issues, or to preserve military readiness. It is all about a political mandate to constrain the military to accommodate wind energy. That is exactly what happened here: The wind developer’s concerns trumped Seymour-Johnson’s. In my opinion, that is a very disturbing state of affairs.

8 – Mr. Richardson is absolutely right when he says this issue is all about greed. Since the community will have a NET economic LOSS, plus a NET Jobs LOSS, we are appealing to the commissioners to take a strong stand against the special interests of a few, and instead represent the best interests of the public.

The ideal thing that Mr. Richardson and his associates can do is to follow the example of Carteret County Commissioners. When they were faced with a proposed industrial wind project in late 2013, they decided to update their Tall Structures Ordinance.

The changes they made were not against wind development, but rather focused on providing protections for the community. The same perspective should be taken for Beaufort County, i.e. their law should be updated to have adequate:

Protections for the health and safety of local families.
Protections for residents near the proposed wind project, to be allowed the quiet enjoyment use of their property.
Protections for the home values of hard-working citizens.
Protections for existing local businesses.
Protections for Beaufort County taxpayers and ratepayers.
Protections for the birds, bats and wildlife in the community.
Protections for the natural coastal resources. And,
Protections for our military brethren, who put their life on the line to defend the very rights that are endangered here…

Once we are clear about the importance of these protections, and what the NET Big Picture actually is, there should be no confusion on this matter.

Department of Defense meddles in wind energy policies

State’s military flight paths, turbines on collision course

By John Droz, Jr. | Special to the County Compass

TCC052914001EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA — Since we have just been reflecting on the true meaning of Memorial Day, this is a heads-up that an extraordinary, precedent-setting, North Carolina military base controversy is going on right now and it’s mostly been under-the-radar.

For this to work out correctly, it needs the immediate support of retired military leaders, and military-friendly North Carolina legislators.

Please bear with me as I lay out a summary of this fascinating wind energy story:

1 – In early 2011 the 11,000-acre, 50-plus turbine Pantego wind project was officially proposed for Beaufort County and a formal application made to the North Carolina Utility Commission, Docket # EMP-61 Sub 0.

2 – This all came about because of the mandate in Senate Bill 3, forcing our state’s utilities to use such alternatives as wind energy.

22857316_BG13 – A subsequent thorough investigation by Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro revealed that several of the 500-foot turbines in this project were directly in the flight path of their low-level training mission. (NOTE: Goldsboro is about a hundred miles away from the proposed wind project where the base employs about 6,500 military and civilian personnel.)

Among other things, the report states that despite the aircrew being aware of the location of turbines, there is distinct potential of them missing the climb point (e.g. under adverse weather conditions) and “an aircraft flying at 500 feet could potentially strike a turbine blade, with the likely loss of two lives and a $31 million irreplaceable combat asset.”

4 – In July of 2012, the base commander (Col. Jeanne Leavitt) felt strongly enough about this that she officially complained to then Gov. Beverly Perdue. In some of her communications with the Governor, the Commanding Officer said the project might result in the Seymour-Johnson base leaving North Carolina.

5 – Gov. Perdue subsequently issued Executive Order 124, which directed NC state agencies to consider such military impacts.

But, is this really being done properly? For example, in the 2013 session H433 was introduced and passed. This bill established a five-mile buffer around all NC bases, to protect them from encroachment from any large structures, but 500 foot wind turbines were exempted!

6 – On the other hand, Gov. Perdue (an avowed wind energy supporter) supposedly complained to the Department of Defense about the base commander’s “threat.” The Department of Defense reportedly then took the base commander to the woodshed, saying she had overstepped her authority. (It’s puzzling how a base commander defending her base’s mission can be faulted.)

7 – In the meantime, a Goldsboro citizens group (the Wayne County Military Affairs Committee: aka the Friends of Seymour-Johnson decided to get educated about wind energy, and to fight to protect their base from this intrusion.

8 – The group went to Washington and complained. They were told that legislators couldn’t do anything as it was in the hands of Department of Defense, which would look out for Seymour-Johnson — so the project continued forward.

9 – Since this is more than a military problem, some Beaufort County citizens also banded together to fight this wind project. One of several concerns was the threat that this project was to nearby Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. This group was called Friends of Pocosin Lakes.

10-Several investigations concluded there were substantial wildlife risks to the Pantego project — e.g. that it would kill as many as 20 Bald Eagles per year.

11-The developer’s sales pitch to the local community was that there would be $1± million in annual tax revenue and 5± jobs. Local citizens asked that I put on a presentation to the County Commissioners. It explained that the reality was that the County would incur a net annual loss of $12± million, plus a net annual job loss of 17± people!

12-In late 2011, the Pantego wind project had two hearings before the NCUC.

13-Prior to those hearings, dozens of citizens wrote the Utilities Commissionexpressing their concerns about the liabilities of this project.

14-Despite being statutorily required to do so, the Commission’s Public Staff’s testimony did not properly address the reliability or economic impacts of this project on the state’s consumers or businesses. (One consequence of this failing was that H280 was introduced to correct it.)

15-To support both the Seymour-Johnson and Pocosin Lakes groups, I submitted an 18-page detailed critique of this project to the Commission. 

Over 60 reports and studies by independent experts were referenced, showing why this project was a net economics loser, a net environmental loser, and a detriment to reliable electricity in NC.

16-Despite this evidence (and likely due to the Public Staff’s inadequate input) the Commission approved the Pantego wind project in early 2012.

17-In their Pantego order, the Commission did not reference a single part of the scientific evidence presented to them — despite the fact that my submission was more than the combined inputs of all other testifiers.

18-In late 2012, North Carolinians elected a Republican governor, and a super-majority of Republicans in the House and Senate. This radical change was the first time this scenario had existed in NC since nearly the Civil War.

19-With this new political climate, Friends of Seymour-Johnson went to their NC state legislators and complained that there was no adequate statewide wind permitting law that to protect the state’s military bases from the threats resulting from Senate Bill 3. To address this, a committee was setup by State Sen. Brown, and a bill was drafted: H484.

20-In the following session (2013), NC passed its first statewide wind permitting law. Although it was a major improvement over having nothing, there were numerous deficiencies in this measure. [These are what are needed to be corrected now!]

21-Because the Pantego project was proposed and approved by the Commission prior to the implementation of H484, that new state law did not apply to the developers.

22-A parallel effort in the 2013 NC legislature was bill H298 (the Affordable and Reliable Energy Act). This would solve the military problem in another fashion: By reducing the artificial mandate enacted in Senate Bill 3.

23-Unfortunately, H298 fell victim to political infighting, and was pulled in the session. One concession to that effort was that Legislature leaders committed to creating and supporting an Energy Policy Council. 

This came into being in early 2014, and was charged with formulating a more sensible statewide energy policy. The initial indications here are positive and we are hopeful that this Council will be beneficial to the state.

24-Following the Pantego project’s approval by the Utilities Commission, the main protection for Seymour-Johnson (and the Beaufort County community), was the Department of Defense Siting Clearinghouse Process..

25-The Department of Defense, the wind developer in Beaufort County, and the Air Force had negotiations about how to fix the Pantego project. Initially we were hopeful that the situation would truly be corrected.

26-In January of 2014 a deal was made. Two key facts are: 

a) A few turbines directly in the S-J flight path would be moved, but 

b) About 20 percent of S-J’s flight path would continue to be obstructed by 500-foot high turbines.

27-In the wording of the final deal, the developer felt it necessary to contractually mandate that Department of Defense and the Air Force would not object to the Pantego project. Note also that:

a) This was signed by the Air Force in Washington, D.C., not by the Seymour-Johnson CO, and

b) This was not signed by Friends of Seymour-Johnson

28-Despite how carefully the developer and Department of Defense worded their press release, this agreement did NOT have the support of FSJ (and by definition Seymour-Johnson). Basically (from people who were at the table) Seymour-Johnson was told (by Department of Defense and the Air Force brass) that this is what they had to agree to. 

The fact that this project is a safety threat to Seymour-Johnson pilots, and an obstruction to their mission, were ultimately considered less important than promoting wind energy.

29-Because this agreement amounted to a material change from the original Pantego project plans, this meant that the developer had to start the approval process over, and now re-apply to the Utilities Commission.

30-For the same reason, the Pantego project is now subject to the rules of H484. To their credit, immediately following the Department of Defense announcement, NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources officially notified the developer that it was required to go through the H484 approval process. That is very good news!

31-Wanting to have a more meaningful Utilities Commission decision the second time around, the Friends of Seymour-Johnson applied for ‘Intervenor’ status for the upcoming hearings.

32-In a highly unusual move, the Pantego wind developer formally objected to the Commission’s decision not to grant FSJ Intervenor status. They cited several specious reasons (like the fact that FSJ did not consist of Beaufort County citizens).

33-FSJ then formally responded to the wind developer’s objections to their intervenor application.

34-To their credit, the Utilities Commission ultimately accepted the FSJ Intervenor request.

35-In 2013 there was a major management change in the Public Staff of the Utilities Commission. Chris Ayers is now in charge of that department. Initial indications are that this will result in the Public Staff now adhering to their statutory requirement to act in the best interestsof NC consumers and businesses.

A demonstration of this positive development was the recent May 21, 2014, presentation to the NC Energy Policy Council by a Public Staff management person. It was encouraging that his talk emphasized the statutory requirements of the Public Staff.

Summary:

A major battle is shaping up that could well not only determine the future of the Seymour-Johnson AFB, but also set a national precedent for Department of Defense involvement with making such wind energy siting decisions.

Hopefully the combination of the newly directed Public Staff, plus the FSJ Intervenor, plus local citizens voicing their disapproval, will produce a substantially different result at the Utilities Commission.

Our second line of defense is the H484 process that the Pantego project will then be subjected to.

It is abundantly clear that the Department of Defense Clearinghouse process is NOT about protecting the mission or operational readiness of NC military bases, or about protecting the safety of armed forces personnel — so H484 should NOT be relying on Department of Defense for any protection of its bases.

The conclusion is that such military concerns MUST be addressed by the state. The simplest and most effective way to do that is to immediately fix the deficiencies in H484.

Editor’s note: Mr. Droz, a resident of Morehead City, is a physicist and environmental advocate who writes frequently for this newspaper about wind energy matters. E-mail him at: aaprjohn@northnet.org

Carteret adopts tough wind energy law

County’s stance similar to Town of Newport’s

By John Droz Jr. | Special to the County Compass

wind-farmCARTERET COUNTY — When the Mill Pond wind energy project was first publicly announced in October of 2013, our main objective was to see that the two affected North Carolina communities had wind ordinances providing adequate protections to: Citizens, local businesses, the military, and the environment.

Wednesday night’s meeting of the Carteret County Commission was the successful conclusion for months of hard work by a lot of good people — as the second of those jurisdictions (following Newport last week) unanimously passed a high quality wind ordinance.

The county’s citizen-friendly law is based on scientific evidence and legal precedents, and includes the following provisions:

  1. Turbine to property line setbacks of one mile;
  2. Low amount of turbine noise allowed (particularly infrasound: 35 dBA);
  3. A maximum turbine height limit of 275 feet;
  4. A quality Property Value Guarantee;
  5. An Escrow Account (the developer will pay the County’s project-related administrative costs, thru-out the life of the project);
  6. Terms and conditions for decommissioning (including a surety bond of $200,000 per turbine);
  7. The developer will indemnify the County for any lawsuit related to the wind development; and
  8. The developer must have an adequate liability insurance policy.

These protections came about because of the MANY dedicated citizens who took time out of their busy lives to research this matter, attend meetings, write their representatives, etc. THANK YOU!

The system worked very well here because the County commissioners were not only listening to their constituents, but they were genuinely interested in proving adequate protections to the community. They kept their eye on the ball, and did not get distracted by specious enticements. KUDOS TO THEM!

In response to three Sierra Club speakers (two non-county residents) who said that this ordinance was “extreme,” Chairman Jonathan Robinson said there was no extreme when it comes to protecting the health of county citizens, county businesses, and local military. Additionally, he said he was prouder of the Commissioners’ actions in this matter than anything else he had been involved with as a commissioner for over 15 years!

Newport adopts tough as nails wind energy ordinance

Carteret sets Feb. 26th public hearing on county regulations

By John Droz Jr. | Special to the County Compass

wind millsNEWPORT — When the Mill Pond wind energy project was first publicly announced in October, our Number One objective was to see that the two affected communities had laws providing adequate protections to citizens, local businesses, the military, and the environment.

Monday night’s town board meeting in Newport was the successful conclusion for months of hard work by a lot of good North Carolinians — as one of our local jurisdictions formally passed a high quality ordinance.

Their citizen-friendly law is based on scientific evidence and legal precedents, and includes the following provisions:

  1. Turbine to property-line setbacks of 5000 feet;
  2. Low amount of turbine noise allowed (particularly infrasound: 35 dBA);
  3. A maximum turbine height limit of 275 feet;
  4. A quality ‘Property Value Guarantee’;
  5. An Escrow Account (developer pays the Town’s project-related administrative costs, thru the project’s life);
  6. Terms and conditions for Decommissioning (including a surety bond of $500,000 per turbine);
  7. The developer will indemnify the Town for any lawsuit related to the wind development, and
  8. The developer must maintain an adequate liability insurance policy.

These protections came about because of the MANY citizens who took the time out of their busy lives to attend meetings, write their representatives, etc. Thank you!

The system worked very well here because the Town representatives were not only listening to their constituents, but they were genuinely interested in proving adequate protections to the community. They kept their eye on the ball, and did not get distracted by specious enticements. KUDOS TO THEM!!

It was correctly acknowledged that the Newport wind law is a living document. The Town Council agreed to make any improvements necessary, as additional research might indicate. The law should be on the town’s website soon. Our next focus is now on the County to incorporate comparable community protections.We are optimistic that they will also do the right thing.

Your assistance in bringing that about will be appreciated. The public hearing before the Carteret County Board of Commissioners is set for the evening of Wednesday, Feb. 26th.

Editor’s note: Readers may e-mail Mr. Droz: aaprjohn@northnet.org

Carteret Commissioners ban wind energy permits for 60 days

By John Droz Jr. | Special to the County Compass
Opponents of a proposed wind energy project outnumbered supporters during a ‘jam packed’ Jan. 2 public hearing at the Civic Center.

Opponents of a proposed wind energy project outnumbered supporters during a ‘jam packed’ Jan. 2 public hearing at the Civic Center.

Editor’s note: John Droz, a Morehead City resident, writes extensively on wind energy issues. He is a frequent contributor to The County Compass. Readers may reach him by e-mail: aaprjohn@northnet.org. Mr. Droz attended a Jan. 2 public hearing at which the Carteret County Commissioners approved a temporary moratorium on the issuance of permits for a proposed wind energy facility.

MOREHEAD CITY — Some were concerned about how many people would show up on a poor weather night, in the holiday season, with the flu being prevalent. The answer: The Civic Center was jam packed.

Approximately 60 citizens spoke (each was allowed three minutes, which amounted to three hours). About 20 of those supported the Mill Pond wind energy project, and 40-plus opposed it. Many opponents cited our science-based position (see www.wiseenergy.org).

Lets look at the main reasons given by the supporters, and a brief reality-check for each:

1 – That the current state wind approval process is good.

Its hard to understand that thinking since this is the first wind project to go through the new state process, governed by state legislation known as House Bill 484. How do they know its good? Simply reading H484 would show that the states process for assessing health impacts is woefully wanting. How is that good?

2 – We should give the state process a chance to work.

What that means is wait until all the approvals have been granted, and then object if we dont like the results. But, of course, at that time it would be too late to do anything!

3 – The Department of Defense banned wind energy in a NC offshore location.

That is a serious misunderstanding, as DOD has no such authority. The federal Bureau of Energy Management banned wind energy in certain offshore areas due to a variety of inputs but that has zero applicability to our onshore case.

4 – Cherry Point is a real part of the approval process.

Yes, Cherry Point is asked for their input. The reality of the current political situation is that their superiors have instructed them not to give any negative answer. No comment is not a true part of a meaningful process.

5 – Any military issue will be satisfactorily mitigated.

Mitigated means make less bad, which is not the same as fixed. Military spokesmen made it very clear that mitigated issues will be a negative score during a Base Realignment And Closing evaluation. It was also pointed out that one possible mitigation would be to close Cherry Point.

6 – We wont lose tourists as some will come to see turbines.

Indeed some tourists come to see something different. So if we built a local prison for terrorists, would these same wind advocates support that facility as a tourist draw?

7 – Wind has issues but it will replace coal, which is worse.

This type of claim is made by people who have no grasp of energy technical realities. North Carolina could have 1,000 turbines and the amount of coal used would not change.

8 – Wind turbines dont kill that many birds and bats.

Cats kill small birds, but no bats or raptors. The fact that these environmentalists so cavalierly ignore huge eagle and bat kills says volumes about their true agenda.

9 – NC is losing out by not jumping on the wind bandwagon.

This thinking reflects a media report that appeared in the paper last week. Elsewhere former commissioner Bettie Bell addressed that nonsense.

10- Wind energy just needs to be properly sited.

What is the proper siting for an energy source that does not make technical, economic or environmental sense? If this were their honest position, they would all be opposed to the absurdly poor siting that Mill Pond represents.

Note that every one of the project supporters main positions is FALSE! That is evidently why they employed a shotgun strategy which means to throw a lot of baloney against the wall and hope something sticks.

Ill give them credit for one success: A much larger percentage of the Mill Pond supporters got up and spoke.

Since many who opposed the project chose not to talk, it gave observers an erroneous impression of how the community is divided on this issue. From the speakers perspective, it appeared to be 33 percent in favor and only 67 percent against

The reality is that among those educated on this matter, about 90 percent are against it. We need to do better next time!

There were many very good comments opposing the wind project, which focused on bullet points available on the website and elsewhere.

After the public comment period ended, the Commissioners voted on the 60-day moratorium, which passed unanimously.  It passed unanimously.

This campaign will be finished when: A) Carteret County has a much better wind law; B) The Town of Newport passes its proposed wind law improvements; and, C) Torch, the wind energy developer behind the Mill Pond project, throws in the towel.