When the Wright Brothers’ plane rose with the wind near Kitty Hawk in 1903 it was little noted immediately. Another wind-related event in Eastern North Carolina may one day also be seen as a quiet but transformational technological event.
In early February, North Carolina’s first wind farm began full operation despite recent efforts by legislative leaders to kill the $400 million project.
The Amazon Wind Farm U.S. East spreads 104 massive turbines over 22,000 acres of farmland in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties. It’s expected to generate enough energy to power 61,000 homes a year. In this case, the power will support a data center of the online retailer Amazon.
The 500-foot turbines are a welcome sight in an area of the state that needs new sources of tax revenue. Leasing land for the turbines also increases the income productivity of farmland. The project marks what we hope will be the beginning of North Carolina’s tapping of an abundant resource – the wind. Between its coastal and offshore areas, North Carolina has one of the best wind resources on the East Coast.
What was also remarkable about this advance is that Republican legislative leaders, including Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, tried to kill it. They raised phony objections about the turbines interfering with military radar, but the Navy said there is no problem. What their opposition was really about was serving the interests of the fossil fuel industry at the expense of renewable energy sources.