Wind energy opponent, Gigi Badawi, reveals personal story
Reporter’s note: When the wind energy issue in Perquimans County first materialized, Gigi Badawi, like most people, was completely unaware of what the project would mean on a personal level. However, as time progressed, she became an advocate against wind energy and has worked tirelessly to defeat this project, not only for the benefit of herself and her husband, but also for the citizens of Perquimans County whom she calls ‘neighbors.’
Mrs. Badawi and her husband Steve Owens have told their story at County Commissioner meetings, in order to place a face on the plight that she and others encounter as they attempt to convince their Commissioners to vote against both wind farm projects in her County.
Several months ago, a state agency, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, voted unfavorably to the interest of the citizens. This allowed the wind developer to proceed with the projects. Rather than complain, and sit by idly, Gigi Badawi and Steve Owens filed suit against the agency to overturn its prior ruling.
The North Carolina Attorney General filed a brief on behalf of DENR, which among other things challenged the “standing” of the plaintiffs, meaning that they were not harmed by the project and therefore lacked the basic ability to file suit. An Administrative Law Judge recently ruled against DENR in the matter of standing, thus allowing the lawsuit to proceed.
The trial will be held in the near future, which will have the effect of drastically undermining, if not completely eliminating the ability of the wind developer to proceed with construction. In this case, the DENR ruling allowed the wind developer to proceed with construction under less restrictive requirements then had previously existed. Now, plaintiffs Badawi and Owens will have their day in court to argue that DENR erred in itsr ruling and that the more restrictive requirements should apply.
The Impact of the Amazon Wind Project (formerly known as the Desert Wind Project)
By Gigi Badawi
PERQUIMANS COUNTY — In order to understand what we are facing in regards to the industrial wind farm project for this county, you must understand our story. In early 2012, we bought a foreclosed home that was not up to code: Had no heat, had broken exterior doors, had black mold, and a multitude of issues that needed to be corrected.
The bank did nothing to keep the home from deteriorating, so it was in very poor shape. We spent well over $100,000 in addition to the cost of the house and turned it into a beautiful home that sits on 12.5 acres. The value of our home has increased quite a bit as a result of our efforts. It is important to note that there were no laws that require the disclosure of the pending wind energy project at that time.
We are terrified that we may lose the enjoyment of the retirement home we worked so hard to achieve due to industrial wind turbines in an area zoned as residential/agriculture. My husband retired on December 31, 2015; so retirement is not years away for us. We worked hard all of our lives so that we could retire at a relatively young age. We never overspent so that we could be ready for retirement and it was important to us that we were financially secure in our later years.
Perquimans County benefited by what we did to our home and is able to charge us higher property taxes as a result. We don’t mind paying our share at all. If we have to move, it would absolutely break our hearts. Our plan over the next decade (shortly after we married) was always to live out our final years in Hertford. We are not even sure we will be able to take the loss at this point since my husband is now retired.
The turbines that will go up in the Amazon Wind Farm project will be less than 3/5 of a mile from our home. We have spent hundreds of hours researching industrial wind turbines on our own since we were neither for, nor against them. Now, we are adamantly against them being placed near residential home sites.
We are exhausted, and the only thing that we have left is hope: Hope that our Board of Commissioners will value the health, safety and welfare of its citizens; hope that they appreciate the natural beauty which surrounds us; hope that they will not deny us the enjoyment and use of our land. After all of the research we have done, we are concerned with the net loss that wind farms will generate, the health effects, the devaluation of our property, the inability to use all of our property, and the current County ordinance that, in our opinion, does nothing to protect its citizens.
We are at Ground Zero; and we will continue to advocate for strong wind ordinances, not only at the county level, but at the state level as well. We will continue to fight for the rest of North Carolina so that no one else has to face the current situation in which we find ourselves.
We need wind ordinances that include:
No less than one-mile setbacks from the property lines
Fully funded and secured decommissioning plans
Property value guarantees
Protection from Infrasound, shadow flicker, audible noise, and other health issues.
We trust that our County Commissioners support the wishes of the Citizens of Perquimans County, whom they were elected to represent.