Taller than the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

By on March 18, 2010

Army Corps of Engineers

The towers would stand 260 feet over the water. The blades would be 150 feet long. The footprint on the Pamlico Sound: 3 square miles.

People wanted to know if fishing would be restricted. Would there be electromagnetic interference? How far would birds have to fly to get around them? Would they be an eyesore for tourism and property values?

These were some of the questions raised Thursday as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Duke Energy launched an environmental study of what would be the country’s first offshore wind turbines.

Called a scoping meeting, the gathering at the Dare County Justice Center wasn’t a public hearing but a chance for citizens to make their concerns known so they can be included, and probably answered, in an environmental impact statement.

The demonstration project moved ahead following a study by the University of North Carolina that recommended it in June 2009 and identified suitable places to put the massive windmills.

“It’s going to help us answer a lot of questions about offshore wind and its future in the United States,” Spencer Hanes of Duke Energy said.

Hanes said that 1.5 percent of the the energy in the United States is generated by wind. None of it is produced by turbines over water. Europe is far ahead of the U.S. in developing offshore wind power, he said.

One of the answers the project hopes to answer is whether the big turbines can withstand hurricanes and tropical storms.

The meeting was the beginning of a long process that will lead to a permit if it passes environmental muster. No specific timetable was provided Thursday.

Planned are one to three turbines 7.3 miles west of Avon and 9.1 miles north of Frisco in the Pamlico Sound. Each would generate one to three megawatts that could produce enough power for 500 to 2,500 homes.

The turbines are larger than the ones based on land, according to Duke Energy. Each would have a tower about 260 above the water to the center of the blades. The lowest blade tip would be about 75 feet above the water and the highest, 440 feet. Duke compared those dimension with the height of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which is 208 feet tall.

Although Thursday’s scoping session was not designed to provide answers to those participating, a Duke Energy fact sheet did address some of them.

Around the world, researches have observed birds flying around offshore wind turbines, it said, and the effects on birds and aquatic life will be part of the study.

It said wind turbines would be compatible with recreational boating and fishing although there would be restrictions within 30 feet of the foundations. Access to the location, however, would be limited during construction. It noted that the sound is 2,000 square miles, and the project would occupy less than 0.15 percent of it.

Duke said it has put together a visualization study so that residents can get a sense of what the turbines will look like from various locations on the Outer Banks.

Comments on the project can be sent by mail or e-mail to:

David Lekson
Washington Regulatory Field Office
U.S Army Corps of Engineers
P.O. Box 1000
Washington, NC 27889
(910) 251-4595
david.m.lekson@usace.army.mil

More information on the project can be found at this link to the corps of engineers.

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Comments

Bertram

February 15, 2011 8:48 pm

Just tonight my son and I discussed/argued about the negatives and positives with Windmills in southern Michigan. I was flabergasted to find that there are witch tales of such magnitude floating around about the shadows disorienting the migrating birds and causing them to fly the wrong way, or causing the deer and other wildlife to wander blindly into the local lakes or just vacate wherever the windmills are built and other similar nature bending occurances. Come on! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and will always be. North Carolina has beauty in any direction you look, and it will take more than a few windmills to change that. Drive to Palm Springs California and behold the awesome power and beauty of over 1,000 windmills that adds to the view, not detracts from the view. Stop and get out and listen. There is much more noise from the train in the distance and other oil burning vehicles than from windmills.
My only complaint about having a windmill in my yard would be from having to mow around it. Now that I think of it, there would be less grass to mow. YES!!

Lulu

June 3, 2010 2:13 am

I don’t live in OBX, but just recently vacationed there. First thought onto Cape Hatteras…why aren’t there more wind turbines? You don’t mind gas stations, unsightly telephone poles/electric poles, and although not in your area, many people are accustomed to smoke stacks, why is this so taboo? The Pamlico sound is 30 miles across in parts? Is that right? Who is gonna see them? I am a tourist who would love to see the winds of the OBX harnessed for a greater good…and would love to see a wind farm! If it were possible, I would put one in my own backyard to fuel my house and possibly my neighbors. Get on board the open-minded train. Expand your lives, and your horizons! This is the 21st century!
p.s. is there anyone who would choose off-shore drilling to wind turbines, which have little to no environmental impact?

chris

May 21, 2010 4:31 pm

To the person that says Pamlico is not in any back yard, people fish in the Pamilco Sound, that is in people’s back yards period. Do you live on the Outer Banks, do you fish, do you enjoy the view from the Outer Banks?s If they are in the Pamilico Sound then someone can see them from a house (I’m willing to be that)! It would be an eyesore, and they do make a lot of noise. Plus take a look at videos of the shadow they cast every time the blade turns. You do not know exactly where these turbines will be placed. Once one is constructed, there will be hundreds if not thousands. Pandora’s box ever heard of it. There are better ways to create energy. Ask yourself who benefits from these turbines, it surely will not be the average citizen. Go to PA and take a look at those wind farms. The only people who like wind farms are the people who DO not live close to them. They out of site and out of mind. Keep The OBX views natural.

Tim

May 14, 2010 12:18 pm

Look at a map. The middle of the Pamlico is not in any back yard.

Rob

May 10, 2010 3:58 am

I love the unobstructed view across the Pamlico sound. If they put these damn eyesores in I WILL NOT be coming back to Avon, EVER. I will take my vacation dollars and spend them elsewhere.

chris

May 9, 2010 8:11 am

Look, I’m all for a different type of power source other than oil. I have vacationed to the OBX for 20 years now and I would be against having huge windmills. I have researched the windmills of the Europeans and seen shows on PBS about them. Windmills are not a fix all. No one talks about natural gas, that is a good solution, it leaves a much less carbon foot print than oil. Society should focus on the sun’s power. Find new concepts to harness this energy. I’m not from North Carolina, but I’m willing to bet these people who are for windmills on the OBX are not either. How about if they put them in your back yard and you’ll see how quiet they are.

eric schultheis

April 8, 2010 2:30 pm

Wake up!! This is a win-win. OBX needs power and jobs and beach nourishment. Let’s do it all. Stop snibbling and let’s get moving.

Brian

March 29, 2010 8:50 pm

Yes, Renee, nice comeback.
Seriously though, the expectation that you can have the wonderful things without the mechanics that go with it seriously ticks me off.
Oil derricks are not tourist attractions but they make tourism possible.
Wind turbines could likewise do so. Will you really notice wind turbines 8 – 15 miles offshore because that’s where one of the areas for the possible location is.
So Renee, do you have a magic source of energy you’re not sharing with the class?
That is not a snarky question – deadly serious. Bringing hydrocarbons to the surface, producing solar cells, building turbines – wind/wave/hydro – somehow, some way, energy must be liberated at cost.
Underwater mining? There’s no way to liberate energy for you to come visit us unless you’re on a water-way taking a barge or on horseback, on foot, lama, etc..

Without energy you’re not going 800 miles to visit us – turbines or not and as noted, we’ve only got so many options.
My tact may suck but my logic?
Yeah, I guess that sucks too.

Max

March 28, 2010 2:46 pm

Renee

March 28, 2010 1:11 pm

Thanks for the tip Brian. You must be on some kind of hospitality board for the Outer Banks. Yes, I’ve been to Hawaii. I can’t say I felt all warm and fuzzy about the wind turbines. Wind turbines are not a tourist attraction.

Brian

March 28, 2010 10:15 am

Renee, may I suggest Hawaii?
One of the most scenic locations the United States has to offer.
Maui? Amazing! The Big Island with volcanoes, tremendous water falls, rain forests, highland tropical ranches, stunning star and island views from atop Mona Kea, the green beaches at South Point and, wait, never mind.
Wind turbines.
Many of them.
Right out there.
Yeah, don’t go to Hawaii either.
Jersey. There you go.

Renee

March 28, 2010 8:04 am

Doesn’t sound like the natural beauty I’ll drive 800 miles to come see. I think they look like a big eyesore, with little cost effectiveness. I might have to change my vacation plans in the future.

Chuck Ball

March 24, 2010 7:31 pm

Why don’t we put small turbines on the massive electrical towers that a springing up on the ‘by-pass’? They certainly wouldn’t be more of an eyesore than ‘French fry alley’ already is.

Banjo

March 23, 2010 1:22 am

I bet a plane flying from a tall dune was considered an eyesore for some. Thank heavens that the Wright Bros didn’t listen to the naysayers as they broadened their horizons.
When I was on my way to Arenal in Costa Rica, there was a whole mountain side dedicated to turbines nestled w/in a panoramic view. My reaction? These people in the third world get it…. why can’t we? Beautiful in its own way. It’s past time….

Brian

March 21, 2010 8:42 pm

I live on the Banks and I’m okay with the turbines.
In fact, I’m working toward installing my own. Realistically, having seen derricks off of beaches all around the world, I’m okay with those as well.
Given my druthers? Turbines.
For anyone making the argument about Chinese turbines, this nation needs to actively manage the near-shore environments for drilling and resource management for one simple reason;
Do any of you seriously think another nation will give a flying fig about our shores as they’re sucking every available hydrocarbon they can from derricks visible from our shores? Those leases go to those who exploit them and if you cannot grasp that fact, you and others like you condemn not only yourselves but everyone else around you to the hell of naivete, foolishness, deliberate exploitation or some combination thereof.
Really, anyone who’s against careful yet active resource management, please send me your e-mail address because I know a Nigerian that can make me, err, us rich if you’ll only respond to his offer.

Chris Sunda

March 21, 2010 7:34 pm

The Sound has such a beautiful view and it’s such a natural area for birds and for kite boarding. I sit and see the sunsets every night that make you feel like God’s Country. The Sound has a large draw for tourists. What a disaster for property values for Kinakeet Shores. You would basically destroy that view and Avon. Its unbelievable that Pea Island was set aside for bird migration and man just wants to destroy it. It would change the ecosystem of the migrating pelicans that you can watch come across the sound at Avon.

Russell

March 21, 2010 2:46 pm

It seems like every local Web site and newspaper that has a comment forum has comments that begin with “As an out-of-state home owner.” This translates into “Dare County made me rich.”

The Chinese?

March 21, 2010 11:37 am

I guess you can either give the Chinese, our allies, money they earn by mining and refining metals, or you can give it to countries that harbor groups that bomb us whenever they can.

As soon as we shake our dependence on oil, we win.

Gary

March 21, 2010 9:10 am

I’m with Brian. I’d much rather see these as opposed to oil rigs. Also, I don’t think the destruction of natural beauty argument is valid because most people who live on or visit the Outer Banks never glimpse the area where this project is proposed.

Jay

March 21, 2010 5:01 am

They really should just stick a smaller one on top of each of the new power poles along the bypass. Paint them funky colors and they would be much cheaper energy-producing pinwheels.

Brian

March 20, 2010 8:59 pm

Turbines in the middle of the sound would be an eye-sore?
Hmmm, Everywhere in the world I’ve seen them deployed and never has the term eye-sore sprung to mind.
Rather see turbines than derricks but one way or another energy must be harnessed or it’s going to be time to throw another Luddite on the barbie.

gws

March 20, 2010 4:17 pm

The people who say they don’t work, please do the research. One new 2mw turbine can now power 2,000 homes, and GE is about to produce at 2.5 at the same size. Wind is by far the fastest growing segment of the power industry.

I’ve been reading this magazine for years, POWER, it’s the trade publication for the global generation industry. Take a look: http://www.powermag.com/

Wayne

March 20, 2010 12:40 pm

RGale speaks out of direct experience with this wind turbine deployment. It will ruin the natural beauty of the Outer Banks with little to non eco-benefits.

I visited a sea bay in Norway. After they put up so many wind turbines, the natural environment and beauty are destroyed, and I never went there for vacation and visits anymore. They lost many fringe benefits from its natural beauty more than electricity gain from wind turbines.

There are natural reasons why there are no wind turbines on the water and why Duke CEO does not put this mosnter in his back yard. Also Dominion Power proposes wind turbines but no Viginia farmers allow them in their back yead.

As house owner in Avon, I strong object to wind turbines in OBX with my direct experience. I recommend everyone in Avon oppose it. Wind and solar will not solve base load problems. They are just show cases and let them do it in Duke CEO’s backyard first. Nuclear power is the way to go.

chuck

March 20, 2010 11:56 am

Wow! Lots of Nimby here ( not in my back yard). I have visited the Danish offshore wind farm –which is 10 miles off the shore, and if you didn’t know where to look could not see. The main issue in Mass. were the Kennedys trying to save the view from their beach ront mansions of the wind farm that would be 12 miles + offshore. The Danish farm is a major producer of energy and the background research is immense. Somebody needs to a) get a grip b) do some real research and c) get out in the real world……and D )happy spring!

Turn off your computer then

March 20, 2010 9:15 am

We live in the 7th windiest place in the US, and there is so much room on that sound that it’s our responsibility to help. Your power demand grows daily, so does mine, what do we say to the nation, hey, build more coal plants (now 50% of our total electrical production), or nuclear (no chance), or gas-fired, or dams (no more will be built).

This is an excellent opportunity to give something to the nation.

Plus, the way to do it is to get enough of a cut from Duke Energy that it gets us less dependent on this disgusting tourist economy, yeah, the one that’s really trashing these islands. If we could cut that atrocity back, this place really would be beautiful.

We should build our own wind farms, sell the energy, get free energy for ourselves, and completely cap and then cut back all tourist activity.

RGale

March 19, 2010 10:37 pm

I live in Somerset County, Pa., and windmills have now overtaken the landscape! At first, I thought this a good idea for clean energy — now you can look in any direction on a ridge of Somerset or parts of Cambria County and you can count dozens of them. It’s not that pretty anymore, and from what I’ve learned doesn’t create much electricity.
Please don’t ruin the beauty Dare County has.

Tim

March 19, 2010 10:17 pm

The reason we are behind is we have been lazy because of the easy oil. We are paying for that now. It is time to change. We have so much wind energy, wave energy and current energy to tap into. Let’s get busy.

Dan

March 19, 2010 9:48 pm

From the article:

“Hanes said that 1.5 percent of the energy in the United States is generated by wind. None of it is produced by turbines over water. Europe is far ahead of the U.S. in developing offshore wind power, he said.”

Well, if no turbines have been built over water in the US by now, there are probably really good reasons why they haven’t. And turbines planted in an area known for some of the worst storms on the East Coast doesn’t sound like a match made in heaven to me. Does the term Graveyard of the Atlantic ring a bell with anyone?

Jim M

March 19, 2010 4:16 pm

For those folks who have never actually been to a “utility scale” wind farm, I urge you to do so. I have and they are like little giants, basically quiet, environmentally harmless producing electricity with very little carbon footprint.
I commend Duke for investing first in a test project that will clear the air of misconception and make way for a critical path towards energy independance.

mark riggs

March 19, 2010 12:41 pm

1)I find it hard to believe that one minute we are worried about the piping plover’s “comfort” and the next minute we are considering massive propellers spinning in their air space.
2)I go to the obx to enjoy the ocean/sound environments, not to “marvel” at man’s ability to alter it.

Gary Gracie

March 19, 2010 12:31 pm

Let’s put the turbines in Duke Energy CEO’s neighborhood.
No wonder Western North Carolina and Nantucket Massachusetts would’t allow these monstrous eyesores. We take one of the most beautiful places on Earth where people go to get away from industrialization and enjoy beautiful beaches and waters and nature, well…
industrialize it. If Raleigh needs energy, put it there.
This has nothing to do with Frisco or Hatteras or Dare County. This has everything to do with Duke planning for its future corporate profitability. Not here. Not ever.
That’s my stance.

Lisa

March 19, 2010 11:39 am

According to Wikipedia, the majority of Neodymium magnets are produced in China and Japan. Can your provide a source for your information that the US produces these magnets? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neodymium_magnet

Shaun

March 19, 2010 9:23 am

Another round of anti-Chinese rhetoric from America’s closest ally. You fell for it Lisa. Data is never what it seems and even the data I found could be skewed to the interests of those presenting but at last read, We, Brazil, India, and Australia are the major producers of this element. It is doubtfull that China could hurt our efforts with their threats or survive these economic times if they carry them out.
Dependent on the Chinese? When your economy is still growing at 8% a year, who is dependent upon whom?

Tim

March 19, 2010 9:15 am

Dare County should be at the forefront of the wind, waves, and current driven energy business. The windmill study is a good start.

Lisa

March 19, 2010 8:16 am

I think this wind turbine business is going to be a disaster for Dare County. They are huge, unsightly, produce little electricity and the cost/benefit ratio is bad. In addition to the aforementioned, does anyone know what the most important part of the windmill is? It’s a precious metal called Neodymium. Want to guess where 99% of the Neodymium is located? China. Yes, let’s become even more dependent on the Chinese. The Chinese are right now thinking of banning the export of the metal. Here read for yourself. http://www.businessgreen.com/business-green/news/2248745/china-eyes-ban-rare-earth-metal

This windmill business is a joke and Dare County is going to regret getting mixed up in it.

Fish

March 19, 2010 7:49 am

This is cool, I have no doubt it’ll be a draw for the tourists. Eco-tourism and environmental responsibility are an important part of our future.

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