In late June, legislators passed a moratorium on permitting of wind energy projects in NC through Dec. 31, 2018
RALEIGH, NC - In the closing hours of the 2017 legislative session in late June, the NC General Assembly passed House Bill 589, The Competitive Energy Solutions Act for North Carolina, and it was signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper on July 27. The legislation began in the N.C. House as a positive, forward-looking policy to advance solar energy and expand access to clean energy for consumers; however, an 18-month moratorium on the issuance of permits for new wind energy projects by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality or the Coastal Resources Commission was added by the N.C. Senate. To show his opposition to the wind moratorium, Gov. Cooper issued an Executive Order after signing HB589.
On Friday, the NC General Assembly took its first step to begin an unnecessary study of military operations in North Carolina in order to create a suite of maps that could be used to determine where wind energy projects should or should not be built. The NCGA's Legislative Services Office issued a Request for Proposals (RFP).
Opponents of the wind moratorium are concerned that the study and resulting maps could be used to permanently ban wind energy projects and limit private property rights of numerous landowners currently seeking to lease their land for two proposed wind projects in rural Chowan and Tyrrell counties near the coast.
Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Defense, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and nearby military bases already have an extensive review process for all energy development and must approve every proposed wind project, turbine-by-turbine, to ensure there is no conflict between any military operations and the more than 1,000 existing wind projects across 41 U.S. states. The DoD Siting Clearinghouse was established in 2010.
"Upon evaluation of the NC General Assembly's new wind energy RFP, it appears taxpayers are being asked to fund a study that has already been completed by entities such as Seymour Johnson AFB, the US Department of Defense, and Federal Aviation Administration," said Allison Eckley, NCSEA's Communications Manager.
"NCSEA is also concerned that this RFP tasks potential vendors to map and evaluate items far beyond the scope of House Bill 589, which was limited to the military and wind energy. Any concerns by the military related to proposed wind projects are already addressed through the DoD and the NC Department of Environmental Quality's extensive review and permitting process. The 18-month wind moratorium and this new $150,000 study are another example of opponents attacking renewable energy projects and the private property rights of eastern North Carolinians."
The following information is found in House Bill 589:
The wind energy moratorium will be in effect through December 31, 2018, and during that time, the General Assembly will study the "extent and scope of military operations in the State in order to create a suite of maps and other relevant data and documentation that shall be employed to communicate the temporal and spatial use of land-, air-, and water-based military operations. Upon completion, the suite of maps and other relevant data and documentation may be utilized to identify areas of the State, both onshore and offshore, where energy infrastructure and development poses a threat to, encroaches upon, or otherwise reduces operations, training capabilities, or readiness".
The Legislative Services Officer (Paul Coble) shall issue a request for proposals (RFP) for (i) the collection of geospatial and other relevant data for land-, air-, and water-based military operations in the State and (ii) the creation of a suite of maps and other relevant data and documentation that can be used to communicate the temporal and spatial use of land-, air-, and water-based military operations in the State. In the conduct of the study, the selected contractor shall consult with the base commander, or the base commander's designee, of each major military installation in the State, United States Department of Defense officials, retired military personnel with relevant and applicable knowledge of training and operations in this State, the Military Affairs Commission, and any other person, agency, or organization that may be able to define the footprint of military operations in this State and identify, communicate, and relate the data necessary to prepare a comprehensive suite of maps and other relevant data and documentation that illustrate temporal and spatial use of land-, air-, and water-based military operations in the State.
Wind/Military Study Time Line:
- The request for proposals (RFP) shall be issued on or before September 1, 2017.
- A contract to award the RFP shall be executed on or before November 1, 2017.
- The study, including the preparation of the suite of maps and other relevant data and documentation that illustrate temporal and spatial use of land-, air-, and water-based military operations in the State, findings, and recommendations, if any, shall be completed and submitted to the Legislative Services Officer on or before May 31, 2018, in order to inform the development of policies pertaining to the protection and preservation of major military installations during the 2018 Regular Session.
House Bill 589 and the FY2017-18 Appropriations Act provided $150,000 for this wind/military related study.
Click here for more details on the U.S. Dept. of Defense Sitting Clearinghouse, which was established by DoD and endorsed by the U.S. Congress in 2010 to coordinate a comprehensive mission compatibility evaluation process for energy development projects.
The Amazon Wind Farm US East, a 104-turbine project near Elizabeth City, is N.C.'s first utility-scale wind project.
Learn more about Amazon Wind Farm US East :
- About the Amazon Wind Farm US East, Avangrid Renewables
- Wind Energy and Economic Development in Eastern NC Factsheet, Southeastern Wind Coalition
- Wind Farms and the Military Factsheet, Southeastern Wind Coalition