Under the Dome

Gov. McCrory embraces offshore wind power as energy alternative

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory asserted his political independence on energy policy this week by throwing his support behind developing wind farms in North Carolina.

Not just any wind farms, but offshore wind farms, which are considered among the most expensive forms of electricity, and generally denounced by conservatives and libertarians as a subsidy-dependent boondoggle.

McCrory notified the feds that he endorses the Obama Administration's efforts to develop offshore wind power. The newly installed governor is making his pro-wind overture at a time that his Republican allies in the state legislature are making plans to roll back North Carolina's 2007 energy law that requires electric utilities to use wind power and other renewables.

McCrory's letter, written Tuesday, to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is causing a stir among green energy advocates.

"During the campaign he focused on offshore and onshore drilling," said Molly Diggins, the Sierra Club's North Carolina director. "So we are very encouraged that the governor recognizes that North Carolina has some of the best wind resources in the United States."

The letter comes a month after the federal agency announced in December that about 1,900 square miles of Atlantic Ocean are available for offshore wind farm development.

"This is an important step to develop North Carolian's world-class wind energy resources," McCrory wrote to the feds. "Development of commercial wind farms off North Carolina's coast could stimulate factory development in the state to provide the necessary equipment and bring jobs in that sector."

McCrory's letter cited several major industrial companies with roots in the state that stand to benefit from wind power expansion. ABB makes cables for power transmission, Nucor makes steel plates used in turbine towers, and PPG makes fiberglass for the blades.

The bureau is within the U.S. Department of Interior, which oversees ocean leasing for offshore wind farm development. In December the bureau said it would accept proposals this year from potential wind developers to gauge interest, the first step in offshore wind development.

Along the East Coast other states are farther ahead in the process, with several projects approved. Getting one built, however, has proven more difficult, as the projects have run into public opposition and legal challenges.

Those who support the renewable industry have said that if North Carolina takes an anti-subsidy stand on wind, solar and other renewables, other states will jump ahead in line and reap those benefits, such as federal support and economic development.

McCrory campaigned as an advocate of energy drilling as well as fracking for shale gas, but his reputation is that of a practical moderate. His letter states that he believes in a comprehensive energy policy and is working on establishing a partnership with other states on offshore energy development.

"Development of North Carolina's offshore wind energy resources is not just good for this state's economy, but it will continue to fulfill work toward an 'all of the above' strategy to move our nation toward greater energy independence."

--Staff writer John Murawski


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PLEASE DON'T support myth about Wind Power Costs


I take issue with your leaving unchallenged that statement about offshore wind being considered "one of the most expensive forms of electricity."

That feeds the opposition and misleads the public and does not address the latest research - nor does it address the humongous indirect COSTS in poor health to millions of North Carolinians from fossil fuel pollution.

"According to a new study from the University of Delaware and Delaware Technical Community College (DTCC) by 2030 renewable energy could fully power a large electric grid 99.9 percent of the time at costs comparable to today’s electricity expenses.

"The research team found that a well-designed system of wind power, solar power, and storage in batteries and fuel cells would keep costs low while nearly exceeding electricity demands. The findings of this study were published recently in the Journal of Power Sources.

“'These results break the conventional wisdom that renewable energy is too unreliable and expensive,” said Willett Kempton, professor in the School of Marine Science and Policy in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. “The key is to get the right combination of electricity sources and storage — which we did by an exhaustive search — and to calculate costs correctly.'”

Offshore wind power

I do not have an objection to wind power but i am concerned about placing the windmills offshore do to hurricanes and hazards to boats and shipping and windmill maintenance problems. I think the windmill's would be better off if they were placed onshore.


I hope that he changes the laws surrounding solar panels on a home. If you are serviced by a govt. electric utility, you can't use it yourself. Be a help to eastern nc.


Let's be clear about a few things. First, always ask why the pols want to embrace an industry never functioning in the state before. Hmmm. Still wondering? Have you checked the campaign war chests of McCrory, Berger, Rucho and Tillis?

Second, always ask about costs and benefits, but NEVER depend entirely on one source. Look at as many as you choose, but be careful . . . and be mindful that the American Petroleum Institute cares not a farthing for your future.

Third, as far as horizontal hydraulic fracturing [fracking] is concerned, it will only happen in Chatham, Lee and Moore counties if the price of natural gas soars to $10.

Also, know this: the shale formation, known as the Cumnock, actually penetrates the aquifer and rises to the surface. IT IS INEVITABLE that drinking water will be contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals. Inevitable!

Alternatives? What are the Republican neanderthals thinking? Oh, I forgot! Those war chests!

More of what we expected

Well, that's at least a little more like McCrory the Moderate we thought had won...

North Carolina has the best offshore wind resources on the east coast. Let's put them to use.

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