This page has information about wind energy development in Carteret County, NC. If you have questions about any of this, or have other material that should be included, or find any errors here, or would like to be on our email list, please email John Droz.
Make sure to look at the rest of the WiseEnergy.org website (see menus above), as there are several hundred studies and reports about the negative economic and environmental consequences of industrial wind energy. Several videos worth watching are here.
If you’re interested in what’s going on with this project, please check back at least weekly for updates. Significant additions or modifications in the last two weeks will be indicated in green.
Quickie overview: a developer (Torch Energy: Houston) is proposing a renewable energy development called Mill Pond. This consists of fifty or so 500± foot tall industrial turbines, plus a small amount of solar. [This is what the developer has called "phase 1" so this is all about them getting their foot into the NC/Carteret door!] The developer is leasing almost all of this land from Weyerhaeuser Corporation. This 7000± acre mostly wooded tract is entirely in Carteret County, with 40%± in the Town of Newport, and 60%± in an unincorporated part of the county. The developer reportedly started checking out the area in 2012, and more officially began the process in the summer of 2013. Their plans became public knowledge in October of 2013.
A NC law (H484) was passed in 2013, which sets up the first statewide wind energy permitting process. The NC DENR (Department of Environmental and Natural Resources) is the lead agency, and Mill Pond will be the first wind development going through this process. Carteret County had the foresight to pass a Tall Structure Ordinance in 2008, but this needed updating. The Town of Newport started creating their own Tall Structure Ordinance once they heard about this proposed project.
The objectives of state, county and town representatives should be: 1) to allow development that is a net-benefit to the community, while 2) protecting citizens, the environment, local economies, and NC military bases from industrialization. Our position is that alternative energy sources should be encouraged — but none should be permitted on the public grid until a scientific assessment proves that they are a NET societal benefit. No such scientific assessment exists for wind or solar. In fact the evidence from studies done by independent experts conclude that wind energy is a net economics and environmental loser. See below (and read through this website — esp EnergyPresentation.Info) for more details
On the evening of November 26th, 2013, I conducted a community forum on the Mill Pond project. Over 100 interested citizens (including several key legislators) attended the slide presentation and lengthy Q&A. Over 95% of the comments were opposing the project, with most focusing on the economics, the environmental impact and the adverse affect it will have on Cherry Point. On the morning of December 6th, 2013, a second community presentation was held, primarily for invited community leaders. It also went very well. To see a synopsis, please look at the latest version of the handout given at both events — which is a copy of some of the main slides.
On January 31, 2014, the wind developer finally threw in the towel. They acknowledged that the citizen-protective Town and County ordinances (both in the final stages of being approved) made it prohibitive for them to go forward. They had hoped to be able to obtain waivers, but based on the response and interest of educated citizens, realized that this was no longer possible.
Economic Realities —
This is all about making a killing (at the expense of taxpayers’, ratepayers’ and the environment), as the wind energy business is one of the most lucrative investments in the country. Wind profiteers make exceptional returns due to things like generous federal subsidies, state mandates, and extremely preferential treatment once they are on the electrical grid. The industry goes to great lengths to keep their profits a proprietary number, as they know their bargaining position would be seriously undermined if such information was made public — however, insiders have indicated that (on other wind projects) they expect to make an annual guaranteed net profit of some 25%! For this the initial phase of this project that works out to $50± million per year to the developer!
The only way the developer can make these huge profits on the backs of citizens, is to hope that:
a) they can cheaply buy off the community (e.g. with lightweight regulations, reduced property taxes, unguaranteed claims of a few jobs, etc.),
b) the community won’t pay attention to the whole economics picture (see below), and
c) the community won’t notice that there are zero societal net benefits for such a project.
What Are Some Other Pieces of the Economics Picture?
For starters, read what the NC Department of Commerce wrote about another proposed NC coastal wind project:
“Nearly all of the upfront investment will be with firms located outside NC” and “The employment impacts for a project with this much initial investment is small.”
Read studies about how industrial turbines decrease Tourism. A conservative (4% reduction) estimate of this effect is that the Carteret County will lose $11± million of local tourism revenue a year and will lose 120± local tourism jobs a year! [Compare this to the puny 8 annual jobs speculated at by the developer, and even those are not guaranteed.]
Read this study by the world’s leading bat experts about the substantial economic costs of turbine related bat deaths.
These experts then calculated the cost of turbine bat deaths for each NC county. The mid-range projected agricultural loss for Carteret County due to industrial wind development is $2.6 million annually!
Read this 2012 Study done by Seymour-Johnson AFB explaining why some coastal wind developments are a serious impediment to their mission of low-level flights.
A letter from the commander of Seymour-Johnson to Governor Perdue, about this threat
—> Following this report and letter, this conscientious base commander was reportedly disciplined by her DC superiors. DOD then made it very clear that local military personnel will NOT publicly speak out against wind energy. All projects are now submitted to DOD headquarters for “vetting.” The last figures we were told were that some 3000 had been submitted countrywide, and zero had been rejected. The bottom line is that Cherry Point military personnel are prohibited from speaking candidly about this project.
Read this excellent news story on the Mill Pond project and Cherry Point.
Several sample reports and articles about how turbines impact radar.
Some Emails & Reports of Interest —
11/03/13 – Letter to head of NC DENR that is an appeal for cooperation.
11/06/13 – Report on the initial (11/5/13) stakeholder meeting, with the developer, in Wilmington (NC). This was reportedly an informal meeting outside the procedure of H484.
11/13/13 – Some information about the effects of the Mill Pond project on Tourism and the Military.
11/14/13 – My letter about the Newport Town meeting (11/14/13) where their proposed wind ordinance was to be discussed.
11/17/13 – Report about the Newport Town meeting (11/14/13) where their wind ordinance was passed.
11/21/13 – Announcement of planned public discussion of the wind project (11/26/13).
11/27/13 – Report on the First Community Forum (11/26/13).
12/07/13 – Report on the Second Community Forum (12/6/13).
12/13/13 – Report on the Carteret County Commissioners special Mill Pond meeting (12/13/13)
12/19/13 – Report on the MAC LAC meeting about the Mill Pond project (12/19/13)
12/28/13 – Letter to Editor in response to Sierra Club letter
Note: unless otherwise noted, these emails went to those who signed up to be on a Newport wind energy email list (300+). That list includes Newport Council and Planning members, Carteret County Commissioners and Planners, several state representatives, federal representatives, several NC organization leaders, and interested citizens.
Some County & Town of Newport Documents —
Writing An Effective Wind Ordinance: 2013 (sent to all local representatives)
My 2008 submission to the County regarding their initial proposed Tall Structure Ordinance.
Carteret County’s Tall Structure Ordinance: 2008 (the passed version).
The “updated” Carteret Tall Structure Ordinance approved 11/18/13. This was a backwards step, reducing citizen protections.
Bullet Points as to the basics of what fixes were needed after 11/18/13.
Newspaper Ad for County Public Hearing on 1/2/14
The real updated Carteret Tall Structure Ordinance, passed 2/26/14.
The developer’s (Torch) slide presentation about the proposed Mill Pond Wind Project: 11/5/13
My Comments about the developer’s Mill Pond slide presentation.
Newport’s Tall Structure Ordinance (11/11/13)
Newport’s Updated Tall Structure Ordinance (see Article IX of Zoning Ordinance) passed 2/17/14.
Some State Documents —
Senate Bill 3: 2007 (A renewable energy mandate, or RPS [Renewable Portfolio Standard]. This lobbyist-driven directive forces NC utility companies to use a certain percentage of renewable energy, by certain dates. The net effect is that almost all of this is going to be met with industrial wind energy, and ALL of that wind development will be on or off the NC coast.)
EMC Report: 2009 (A proposed statewide basic permitting process for the wind energy dictated by Senate Bill 3. This proposal did not get passed due to several inadequacies.)
H484: 2013 (The second attempt at a basic statewide permitting process for wind energy. This passed.)
My critique of H484, which identifies its many weaknesses. (Legislators said that the point of H484 was to get something on the books, and that they will upgrade H484. As is, H484 is a very weak measure that provides insignificant protections to citizens, the environment or the military — unless DENR chooses to be aggressive in applying it.)
NC DENR is the lead state agency on H484 implementation. Here is their official mission statement.
H298: 2013 (A proposed bill to fix the problems with SB-3. It was pulled from the legislative floor due to political infighting.)
H433: 2013 (A statewide tall structure ordinance to protect military bases — where wind turbines were excluded. This passed.)
The related NC Utility Commission Documents on this project (Docket SP-3085 Sub 0).
NC Utilities Statute (Chapter 62 defines the rules that NCUC is supposed to apply when reviewing new energy projects.)
NC Noise Related Statutes and Policies (This has yet to be applied to industrial wind energy.)
NC Ridge Act (This prohibits turbines from being in NC mountains. No such measure protects the NC coast.)