N.C. lawmakers have passed the state budget and are packing their bags to bug out of Raleigh, but they've left some unfinished business for next year. Senate Bill 1068, which governs the placement and permitting of wind turbines—including a controversial ban on building them on mountain ridges—will likely have to wait until next year to move.
The Senate passed the bill last week and referred it to the House Committee on Energy and Energy Efficiency, which could take it up when the legislature reconvenes for the short session next May.
The bill sets a framework for building and permitting wind turbines along the coast, including studying potential ecological and environmental impacts and notifying adjacent property owners.
However, a contentious provision strengthens the state's 1983 "Ridge Law" by banning wind turbines taller than 100 feet from mountain ridges greater than 3,000 feet, known for their windy conditions. The reason? Turbine opponents think they're ugly, and ugly doesn't sell to the vast numbers of tourists clogging the Blue Ridge Parkway with their cars—which is no pretty picture, either.
Renewable energy proponents note the bill impedes N.C.'s glacial progress toward achieving its Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard. Two years ago, the legislature passed REPS after a protracted and testy battle that diluted the strength of the original bill. Nonetheless, state law now requires that N.C. electric public utility providers meet 12.5 percent of the state's energy demand through renewable energy generation or energy efficiency by 2021.
To see a list of members on the Energy and Energy Efficiency committee, go to bit.ly/132jQm. Appalachian State University has excellent resources on wind (www.wind.appstate.edu), as does the N.C. Sustainability Energy Association (www.ncsustainableenergy.org).