The state has issued a permit for Timbermill Wind’s proposal to build and operate a wind energy facility in Chowan County.
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Energy, Mineral, and Land Resources announced Tuesday that it had granted approval for up to 45 turbines and associated infrastructure to be built north of Edenton.
The company proposes construction of wind energy generation capabilities of up to 189 megawatts with a 6.1-mile, 230-kilovolt transmission line and associated facilities to connect the wind project to the existing Dominion Energy transmission grid, according to the application the division received May 19, 2022.
The division said it had thoroughly considered comments received during the public engagement process, including a public hearing held July 21, 2022.
Former Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret, had written during the public comment period that Timbermill Wind had “neglected to address certain key points in their application,” regarding encroachment concerns related to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and its mission and training capabilities.
The group Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow had said the application “completely fails to address military issues” and called on the state to reject it. In written comments, the group’s president William Lewis Jr. said the project would also interfere with the Navy’s relocatable over-the-horizon radar, or ROTHR, system, a long-range, land-based, wide-area surveillance system that tracks aircraft and surface ships off the U.S. coastline.
The permit is the first for a facility under a 2013 state law establishing the permitting program for wind energy facilities, and it comes with conditions.
Permit conditions to remain in effect for the life of the project cover the construction, operation and decommissioning of the site with the potential for civil penalties for violations. Timbermill Wind is also required to comply with all local and federal permitting regulations and obtain any necessary permits.
Construction and operating conditions include obtaining a written “Determination of No Hazard to Air Navigation” issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. All turbines and meteorological towers must be marked and lit according to FAA guidelines and must be visible on night-vision goggles. During construction, all turbines must be lit with temporary equipment when reaching a height of more than 200 feet, until permanent lighting is constructed.
Conditions also include minimizing the clearing of trees and vegetation during construction, “within the bounds of sound engineering principles,” and minimizing impacts to jurisdictional wetlands and wildlife by complying with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service terms in the agency’s biological opinion included as part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Clean Water Act Section 404 permit.
The company must alert DEQ within 24 hours of “an extraordinary event” and comply with an emergency response plan in consultation with emergency responders with jurisdiction over the facility.
Timbermill must also provide financial assurance to Chowan County covering decommissioning costs and report energy production data from the facility, including explanations for inactivity.
The final permit, final permit reviews, hearing officer’s report and process to contest the permit decision can be found on the DEQ website.