The growth of wind power in eastern North Carolina has caused alarm among some who believe that wind turbines amount to giant “bird blenders” in the sky.
Recently, state lawmakers put forth a proposal that would effectively ban wind energy from large swaths of the state, arguing that North Carolina’s military bases and flight training paths are threatened by wind towers.
Audubon’s experience has shown that wind projects can be properly designed, sited and monitored to avoid significant impacts on bird populations. By avoiding the installation of wind turbines in migratory pathways, important bird areas and other sensitive natural areas, North Carolina can grow jobs and enjoy economic development from the wind industry while protecting birds and other wildlife. A transition to clean energy is also critical to protect birds from the worst effects of carbon pollution, which is already impacting where birds can survive and thrive in our state.
While it’s true that some of the nation’s earliest wind farms, like California’s Altamont Pass Wind Farm built in the 1970s, have been responsible for large number of bird kills, today’s wind projects must clear a number of local, state and federal hurdles before they can be constructed. Responsible wind developers have learned that it’s far better to consider impacts to birds early in the process to avoid significant construction delays, wildlife impacts and costly fines.
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Overly burdensome limits on wind energy development in the state do a disservice to one of the most economically challenged areas or our state. A more balanced approach is needed and Audubon stands at the ready to work with state leadership, wind developers and military interests to secure our shared interests in economic development, national security and conservation of natural resources.
I’m confident we can keep the sky open to the V-22 Osprey military aircraft and raptors of the same name while harnessing the jobs and economic prosperity that would come from a growing wind industry in North Carolina.
Executive Director, Audubon North Carolina
The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the issue.