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Key Lesson Underlying North Carolina’s 18-Month Wind Moratorium

In July 2017, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill 589 with provisions to develop more than 3,200 MW of solar energy in the state. The bill also included an 18-month moratorium on wind farm permits to assess the impact of interference wind turbines could have on military operations.

Key Details

  • The wind moratorium was a late amendment to what was otherwise a bill focused on solar energy and the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA).
  • Originally conceived as a four-year ban, the bill also requests the identification of state areas where wind turbines would affect military training and radar accuracy.
  • The moratorium on wind permits is valid until December 31, 2018, and directly impacts Timbermill Wind and Little Alligator projects. These projects were originally expected to build 77 turbines and generate 420 MW by 2019.
  • North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed the legislation but also immediately signed a separate executive order to attempt to mitigate the impacts.
  • The executive order is intended to ensure wind facilities are able to come online quickly after the moratorium expires, recruit new wind projects, and conduct a feasibility study of renewable energy on state-owned property.
  • In the past, wind project developers and defense agencies have joined efforts to allow projects to expand around military bases.
  • North Carolina has eight active military bases.

Implications

The developments in North Carolina highlight the complexities that can be involved in permitting and developing wind energy. Development of wind projects continues to be dependent on state-by-state approaches as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach.

Additional Resources

Charlotte Business Journal: Gov. Cooper signs solar bill, issues executive order supporting wind energy

The News and Observer: Two proposed wind farms threatening to pull out of NC if moratorium becomes law


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