RALEIGH — If the 18-month moratorium on wind farm permits becomes law, two proposed wind farms will pull out of eastern North Carolina, company officials say. Both projects had been expected to apply for state permits as early as this year and potentially could have been generating electricity by 2019, the News & Observer reported.
The moratorium would prevent permitting of wind farms until after Dec. 31, 2018.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, R-Onslow, inserted the moratorium into an unrelated bill that passed both chambers before the state legislature adjourned. The bill, House Bill 589, otherwise enjoyed widespread support because it would allow state residents to lease solar panels on their rooftops rather than owning them outright.
The moratorium requires a study to identify areas of the state where the large turbines would interfere with military training. Wind farms must already receive clearance from the Department of Defense before they can be built.
The moratorium now waits on Gov. Roy Cooper’s signature or veto. Cooper has until July 30 to decide and is reviewing the bill, according to his office.
One of the affected projects, The Timbermill Wind farm in Chowan County, would generate about $800,000 in property tax revenue for Chowan County in its first year of operation, an 8.5 percent increase for the county.
The Timbermill Wind project, is planned to have 48 turbines up to 599 feet in height to the tip of the extended blade. Project developer Apex Clean Energy has been paying lease payments since 2013 to property owners who will host the turbines on their land when they are built.
The other project, the Little Alligator wind farm, would erect 29 turbine towers in Tyrrell County, all on land owned by timber producer Weyerhaeuser. The developer, British energy firm Renewable Energy Systems, or RES, is now reconsidering its commitment to the $200 million energy project.