More than 100 people attended a public hearing of the Utilities Commission in Washington, NC on November 17 to provide their input on the proposed wind farm near Pantego, NC. Invenergy LLC is proposing an 80 megawatt industrial wind farm of 49 turbines capable of providing power to about 5000 homes. Currently, the company has an Application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the project before the North Carolina Utilities Commission. The documents for this docket (EMP61 Sub 0) are available here and include comments by state agencies responding to the notice as well.
Audubon North Carolina has submitted comments to the Commission as well, expressing our deep concerns about this project being constructed within our Pungo-Pocosin Lakes Important Bird Area. This is the same general area that was under consideration for the Navy's Outlying Landing Field and the subject of a lawsuit filed by Audubon North Carolina and other partners.
Our comments summarize what is known from other projects about impacts to waterfowl and other birds. The area under review had numerous detailed studies during the OLF fight, and much of that data is available. We continue to stress that these data, as well as rigorous avian usage study, needs to occur prior to permitting of this project. Unfortunately, (as we have discussed previously on this blog) North Carolina has failed to pass legislation creating a statewide regulatory framework for these kinds of projects, and so the necessary permits and points of intersection for public debate and comment are limited. But the Commission will still accept comments through December 6th when it holds it evidentiary hearing in Raleigh. Visit the website of the Commission for more details on commenting on this project - information about how to submit comments are on pp. 3 and 4 of the docket. Audubon North Carolina staff will also attend the December 6 hearing in Raleigh.
Audubon North Carolina have had a phone conference outlining our concerns and ideas regarding methodologies for study, existing data, and other concerns with the developer as well as with staff from other agencies. Since that meeting, Invenergy staff have provided additional testimony regarding their site selection and avian and bat studies here. We will continue to work diligently to protect this vital IBA. It is still early in the process, and we plan to be engaged at every step.
You can view video of the public testimony here.
Learn more about the wind project in this article in the Washington Daily News.
Both the National Audubon Society and Audubon North Carolina have adopted wind energy policy statements that support the development of responsibly sited wind energy projects in the United States and North Carolina. These policy statements are available at the Audubon NC website and at National Audubon's website.
For more information about Audubon NC's position on this project, contact Curtis Smalling at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Curtis Smalling