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Another Bill Filed to Limit State’s Wind Energy

RALEIGH — Legislators have filed a third bill this session promoting increased military regulation of wind farm installations in North Carolina.

The bill, called “An Act to Better Ensure Compatibility of Wind Energy Facilities with Military Operations and Readiness,” was introduced on April 5. Rep. Holly Grange, R-New Hanover, Rep. John Szoka, R-Cumberland, and Rep. Sam Watford, R-Davidson, are the primary sponsors of the bill.

The bill passed the House April 6 on a first reading and was referred to the Energy and Public Utilities Committee.

The bill states that wind energy installation must first receive approval from the Department of Defense and must obtain a “letter to proceed” stating that a wind energy facility “would not cause significant adverse impacts on air navigation routes, air traffic control areas, military training routes, or radar installations.”

A similar argument promoting increased military review has been recurring, despite the military’s response that relevant wind energy plans are already vetted and approved.

The Amazon Wind Farm in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties was targeted earlier this year in a letter to the then-incoming Trump administration asking for the farm to be shut down due to its proximity to naval radar. Ten state legislators and a retired general signed the letter.

The Navy later responded saying the wind farm had already been approved to avoid any interference with the radar. The military’s review cut the number of turbines from 150 to 104.

A Navy spokesperson said the Navy creates “mutually compatible scenarios” with wind farms to avoid electromagnetic interference to the radars.

In March, two bills were filed attempting to increase military oversight on wind developments in the state. They include the “Military Operations Act of 2017” and the “Responsible Wind Energy Implementation Act.”

In 2016, the DOD responded to a similar bill by expressing support for North Carolina’s current laws, which allow the military the opportunity to provide input on wind energy installations.

The Defense Department is “supportive of the state’s existing legislation that affords military installations in the state the opportunity to provide input on potential impacts from proposed wind energy projects,” said Lt. Col. James B. Brindle, a department spokesman. “However, we have not officially been engaged or involved with North Carolina regarding the latest proposed revisions to state law.”

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.