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GOP Lawmakers Try Again To Halt New Wind Farms In NC

A wind farm near Elizabeth City, NC.
Sarah McCammon
A wind farm near Elizabeth City, NC.

Several Republican state senators are trying again this session to limit the expansion of wind power, saying new turbines could interfere with military flights. The bill filed Wednesday, the Military Operations Protection Act of 2017, would halt permits for new wind farms until studies show they are safe.

Senators Harry Brown, Louis Pate and Norman Sanderson all represent counties in eastern North Carolina. They say wind farms could endanger pilots and paratroopers around the state's six military installations.

Brown said in a press release the bill "is about our responsibility to protect the investment the U.S. military has made in our state and honor our commitment to being the most military-friendly state in the country."

A similar bill last year never made it out of committee.

The state has just one commercial wind farm in operation. The $400 million project near Elizabeth City has 104 turbines on 22,000 acres, reaching about 500 feet tall. The wind farm began generating electricity in February. The 104 turbines can generate a total 208 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 61,000 homes.

The wind farm in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties is operated by a company called Avangrid. All the power is being sold to online retailer Amazon.  A group of state lawmakers has asked the Trump administration to shut down the project

Avangrid is also considering another wind investment, off the North Carolina Coast. Last week, the company was the winning bidder for rights to build a wind farm on 122,405 acres about 25 miles off Kitty Hawk, at the Outer Banks. The site could eventually generate 1,486 megawatts of electricity, according to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Copyright 2017 WFAE

David Boraks is a WFAE weekend host and a producer for "Charlotte Talks." He's a veteran Charlotte-area journalist who has worked part-time at WFAE since 2007 and for other outlets including DavidsonNews.net and The Charlotte Observer.
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