North Carolina is one of the leading producers of commercial-scale solar energy in the nation. The state has also been selected by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for a potential offshore wind project off Kitty Hawk or at one of two locations off Wilmington.
But opponents of offshore oil drilling do not necessary favor alternative energies such as solar and wind. Some, in fact, are nearly as skeptical of alternative energy production in the state as they are offshore oil production.
“I don’t think wind energy has been thought out, because I know that other areas that have it, you have to bury (turbine footings) so deep in the ground – our soil is so sandy,” said Carolyn Braly, the town manager at Minnesott Beach.
And Braly said that she has heard “horrible things” about solar farms. “The birds flying over – they’re just fried in the air,” she said.
“I don’t know,” she said. “We’re screwing around with our environment these days. We’re going to destroy what we have. I haven’t heard anything lately that swings me in either direction firmly. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. But massive anything isn’t good, I don’t think.”
Alternative energy is still too impractical as a substitute for oil, said Desiree Rouse, from Morehead City. “I guess in the future someone smart will invent something, but I don’t see that happening in my lifetime.”
On the other hand, some also expressed impatience with leadership that has discouraged development of alternative energy production in the state.
“On the Outer Banks, wind farms would be great,” said Hadley Twiddy, owner of an outdoor recreational business in Corolla. “Why in the world would we invest in something that we know could damage our shoreline when we have other options with less far-reaching ramifications?”
“People need to come to a higher universe about energy – period,” said Tara Grey, owner of Bead by the Sea in Ocracoke village. “There’s so many sustainable sources. There’s wind power. There’s solar power. For anything out there, it’s expensive, but the government should subsidize solar. The sun’s out everyday. I mean, it’s free.”
“I think it is shortsighted of our government,” said Debbie Price, a real estate broker in Corolla. “They need to invest more in wind power and solar.”
Greg Honeycutt, owner of Ocean Atlantic Rentals, said it’s not only wind and solar that would make a difference. Biofuels, for instance, could provide a sustainable way to power cars, trucks and boats.
“We have a lot of vehicles in our business,” he said. “Sure, it’s nice that gas prices here have dropped. I’m very much for alternative fuels.”