Opinion

Save the wind farms

A large crane holds the blade assembly as it is attached to the nacelle August 10, 2016 at the Amazon Wind Farm near Elizabeth City, N.C. . The complete assembly is 492 foot tall and there are 104 turbines planned for the site.
A large crane holds the blade assembly as it is attached to the nacelle August 10, 2016 at the Amazon Wind Farm near Elizabeth City, N.C. . The complete assembly is 492 foot tall and there are 104 turbines planned for the site. cliddy@newsobserver.com

Military bases would seem to be quite capable of protecting themselves. Nonetheless State Sen. Harry Brown, a Republican from Jacksonville, is standing up to rescue the bases from wind turbines.

The Senate majority leader pushed through a bill calling for an 18-month moratorium on wind farms in northeastern North Carolina because he’s worried that the tall turbines could interfere with base operations. “I think military and wind farms can co-exist but only in certain places,” he said. “Until you draw some maps and know where they are, it’s prudent to protect these bases.”

The U.S. military knows how to define threats, but it doesn’t see a need to battle windmills. Federal reviews and siting requirements ensure that turbines will not interfere with military flight paths or other operations.

So why is Brown so gung ho? Perhaps because what he’s really concerned about is protecting the fossil fuel industry, which is threatened by rapid gains in renewable energy sources, including wind power.

Certainly that industry would be pleased with the effect of Brown’s moratorium. Developers of two wind farms proposed for eastern North Carolina say they will cancel their projects if the moratorium becomes law. One developer, the British firm Renewable Energy Systems, said the moratorium “has sent a strong and broad message that the State is not favorable for wind energy investment.”

Brown says he wants to protect the bases as drivers of the eastern North Carolina economy, but the bases are not going anywhere. It’s a future industry that may be lost in a part of the state hungry for investment. Gov. Roy Cooper should veto this moratorium.

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