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.