This wind farm is a monumental step not just for North Carolina, but for the entire Southeast. There is only one other wind farm in the south, Invenergy’s Buffalo Mountain Wind Energy Center in Tennessee. With so few wind farms operating in the region, wind power remains a fairly unfamiliar resource. That makes it easier for anti-wind energy activists to spread misinformation and nonsense. But as people begin to see the positive effects of wind power in their community, it becomes obvious that wind power is a winner. Studies suggests that states with more wind farms boast more public support for wind energy.As more wind farms are developed throughout the South, public acceptance will continue to increase.
Last week, more than 50 state and county governments, representing 28 states, along with global tech leaders like Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft, joined the list of groups filing briefs in support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.
As reported in a previous blog, our nation’s best hope at reigning in dangerous carbon pollution from our energy sector was put on pause when the Supreme Court made a recent, unprecedented ruling. This speed bump, however, has not caused supporters of the Clean Power Plan to abandon ship. Instead, advocate groups, major companies and city and county governments have joined the legal battle to help bolster EPA as it fights industry and coal dependent states in the courts.
Wind turbine technology has advanced significantly in the past few years, enabling wind farms to sprout up in new areas, particularly in the Southeast. Taller turbines and longer blades are capable of capturing more wind, which results in harnessing more electricity and reducing costs. Even as new wind development promises sustainable economic development in rural counties, in some cases new wind farm proposals are being met with hostility and resistance. North Carolina is a recent example of new turbine technology creating opportunities and opposition, as anti-wind activists use confusion and misinformation to press for wind farm bans that are disguised as regulation.
Construction began this summer on the first utility-scale wind farm in North Carolina, and one of the first in the southeastern U.S., the Amazon Wind Farm US East, powered by Iberdrola Renewables. This exciting development in rural northeastern North Carolina will deliver significant local economic benefits over the life of the project, starting with a huge boost for local companies and workers during construction. It will soon be the largest taxpayer in each of the two counties where it’s located, and combined with landowner lease payments, will inject more than $1.1 million into the local economy each year.
While the Amazon Wind Farm US East isn’t the first wind farm in the South (as many, many news reports incorrectly stated), it certainly is the largest. In 2004, the wind development company Invenergy constructed the Buffalo Mountain wind farm near Oliver Springs, Tennessee. The Tennessee Valley Authority has purchased power from the Buffalo Mountain wind farm for over a decade. The Buffalo Mountain wind farm is made up of 13 wind turbines with a total capacity of 27 megawatts; meanwhile, the new Amazon Wind Farm US East will contain 102 wind turbines with a total capacity of 208 megawatts, with an option to add another 50 turbines (100 megawatts).