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.