Tomorrow night, on Wednesday the 26th, the Carteret County Commissioners will again consider revisions to the TSO. The special meeting will begin at 6:30pm in the Commissioners Board Room of the County Office Annex building in Beaufort, and the public is welcome.
Earlier this week, on Monday night, the Newport Town Council considered new recommendations for strengthening the town’s Tall Structures Ordinance (TSO). The following are the highlights of the modifications that the council members then voted to adopt:
Requiring that the developers of renewable energy facilities apply for a special-use permit from the town before beginning construction of a wind turbine farm or other facility.
Reducing the allowable noise level from 45 down to 35 decibels.
Reducing the maximum allowable height to the uppermost end of a blade tip down to 275 feet from 550 feet.
Doubling the setback from neighboring property lines to 5000 feet from 2500 feet, and establishing a 1000 foot setback from property lines adjacent to the Croatan National Forest.
Requiring a $500K surety bond per wind turbine to ensure that turbines are demolished and removed after they are no longer operable or operating.
Requiring a $50K escrow deposit to help offset the cost to the town of consulting fees or other expenses associated with the process of reviewing and issuing a permit.
Requiring a Property Value Guarantee.
Kudos to the Newport Town Council, and to all who worked to see this process through.
Because of our recent bad weather and other considerations, the Newport Town Board put off their final vote on their proposed Tall Structures Ordinance revisions until their regular meeting tonight at 5:30pm in the Town Hall. Their last meeting was poorly attended, so interested citizens should make every effort to be at this one. If you have views on the subject but cannot attend, they may be sent via e-mail to the Board’s chairperson. That e-mail address is KDavis83@ec.rr.com.
With my slight editing, the Carteret News-TImes reports, HERE, that Torch Energy:
… will abandon plans to develop a hybrid wind and solar facility near Mill Pond outside Newport. “In light of the unlikely prospect of acquiring a variance from the county’s current tall structures ordinance, we have decided not to move forward with the project,” Torch Energy’s vice president of development, Rocky Ray, said in a prepared release.
“All I can say is that the current ordinance in place had to have factored into their decision,” said (Carteret County Commission) Chairman Jonathan Robinson of the announcement. “I’m sure that, and the climate, and the controversy that surrounded this proposal led to their decision (to terminate).” Mr. Robinson said he felt the board acted in due diligence imposing the moratorium and would continue to look at the ordinance, despite the project retraction from Torch.
The variances necessary for the project, cited by Torch in the release, are likely alterations to the ordinance’s 3,300-foot setback requirement, said County Manager Russell Overman. The proposed project would require smaller setbacks to the perimeter to facilitate placement of all 40 of the structures, according to information gleaned by county officials. Mr. Overman said the county was given notice of the dropped proposal Friday afternoon.
This most-welcome result is due in substantial measure to the unrelenting efforts of several county residents, most notably John Droz, Jr. of Morehead City, whose expertise as a physicist and environmentalist lent gravitas to his leadership in bringing this to pass. Kudos, John, and many thanks.
John Droz has kindly reported on the Military Affairs Commission (MAC) meeting that took place today over in Jacksonville. There were roughly two dozen in attendence, with about a half-dozen of those being active military (including three retired Generals) and the remainder being from ACT, the Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow.
John spoke for fifteen minutes or so on Torch Energy’s proposed Mill Pond wind turbine farm, with a particular emphasis on the military aspects. His talk was well received, and he spent another forty-five minutes or so responding to follow-up questions.
At the end of the meeting, the Committee voted to formally request that the NC General Assembly “upgrade” H484 to better address the issues that area residents have come to recognize about wind energy.
In yet another perspective from an industry insider on how dumb green energy initiatives really are, here is Duke Energy President Paul Newton in testimony before the North Carolina Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy:
“We essentially can’t say, ‘No thanks,’ ” Newton said. “The price our customers pay for QFs [ qualifying facilities ] coming onto our system is higher than they would otherwise pay for electricity. QFs represent the highest cost generation on our system.”
As Newton also notes, the underlying problem is PURPA, the 1978 Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act, passed during the Carter administration as a measure intended to reduce our reliance on middle eastern oil suppliers. PURPA mandates subsidies for renewable energy produced by qualifying facilities, which would, of course, include facilities such as Torch Energy’s proposed Mill Pond wind turbine farm.
Read the whole nauseating thing HERE, reported on by Dan Way via Carolina Journal Online.
Belatedly and briefly, my takeaways from the January 2nd Special County Commissioners meeting held at the Civic Center in Morehead City to hear public comments of the proposed permitting moratorium and the Mill Pond wind turbine farm idea:
First, the room was packed and there were about sixty speakers over a three-hour period. There is a lot of public interest in this issue, particularly within Carteret County.
Second, virtually everyone present favored the adoption of the 60-day moratorium, and the Commissioners recognized that sentiment by adopting it soon after the last speaker left the podium. Also, although the greenies were well represented by Mark & Penny Hooper along with Robert Scull of the Sierra Club, the speakers (and, I think, the entire crowd) ran about three-to-one in opposition to the Mill Pond wind turbine farm proposal.
Third, Weyerhaeuser remains on board. Although some of our local political representatives had expressed the optimistic hope that Weyerhaeuser would see the strong anti-Mill Pond opinions as posing a potential problem for the continued sale of their timber products to the wood chip operation at the State Port in Morehead City, I spoke at length with Weyerhaeuser spokesperson Nancy Thompson about this. She was clear and emphatic on two points:
There have been formal discussions between Torch Energy and Weyerhaeuser regarding a possible lease on the property around Mill Pond, but no long-term lease contracts have been entered into or are contemplated for the short term. Moreover, Weyerhaeuser would not consider it appropriate to enter into such a contract until after Torch Energy had jumped through all the pre-requisite hoops, including the ones mandated by the NC Utilities Commission and the issuance of appropriate permits by Carteret County and the town of Newport.
Like any corporation, Weyerhaeuser is in business to make profits. They see the Torch wind turbine farm as an opportunity to gain additional revenue from a large tract of their timberland without having to relinquish the usual revenue arising from their wood products, as only a few trees would have to be removed in order to accommodate the wind turbines. They remain, therefore, receptive.
Stay tuned for further developments, as both Newport and Carteret County are presently considering the enactment of stringent permitting ordinances.
And lastly, some additional resources that readers may find useful:
- The CITIZEN’S CASE, the text of remarks made by John Droz before the NC Military Affairs Commission on December 19th.
- The BULLET POINTS, compiled by John Droz.
- The full fifteen-page HANDOUT, which lays out in some detail the problems with the Mill Pond project.
- The website for AWED, the Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions.
For any who may not have been keeping up with the chain of events relating to Torch Energy’s proposed Mill Pond wind turbine farm, next on the agenda is a special meeting of the Carteret County Commissioners. The meeting is set for 6pm on Thursday, January 2nd for the purpose of hearing public comments and otherwise considering the adoption of a 60-day moratorium on County permit issuances for such projects, pending additional review by the Commissioners. Due to the anticipated turnout, this meeting will be held in the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City.
A local citizen leading the opposition to the project, John Droz, will speak in favor of the moratorium. Droz and I urge all concerned citizens and residents to attend the meeting also, and to speak in support of the moratorium. The time allotted to each person wishing to speak is three minutes, and the process is simple and straightforward:
Write down your intended remarks. They should begin with your name and approximately where in the County you live. Beyond that, make them as elaborate as you wish, but be sure to include
- your support of the 60-day moratorium and;
- the Bullet Points, in whole or in part (see the link below).
Arrive early enough to get your name entered on the list of those wishing to speak.
When your name is called, go to the podium and read your remarks.
If you cannot attend the meeting in person, the commissioners will be made aware of your input if you e-mail the text of your remarks to the Commissioners Board Clerk, Jeanette Deese <email@example.com>.
Some additional resources that you may find useful:
The CITIZEN’S CASE, the text of remarks made by John Droz before the NC Military Affairs Commission on December 19th.
The BULLET POINTS, compiled by John Droz.
The full fifteen-page HANDOUT, which lays out in some detail the problems with the Mill Pond project.
The website for AWED, the Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions.
Let’s try for a big turn-out on Thursday night. We need to impress the Commissioners with the depth of our feeling about the crafting of the County’s Tall Structures Ordinance, and about this proposed wind turbine farm.