Dominion turns on renewable microgrid in Kitty Hawk

By on July 27, 2014


One of the site’s four wind turbines. (Michelle Wagner)

The same wind that will provide energy steadily blew Friday in Kitty Hawk dignitaries and Dominion North Carolina Power officials gathered to dedicate the company’s first renewable power grid.

The Microgrid Research Project at Dominion’s regional office will reduce the amount of power it pulls from the grid and includes four wind turbines able to produce 13 kilowatts and ground-mounted solar panels that can generate 6 kilowatts.

One turbine is 65 feet and the others reach 45 feet into the sky. The project will also have 75 kilowatt-hours of battery storage.

An educational kiosk at the Woods Road office, Kitty Hawk Town Hall and Kitty Hawk Elementary School will allow visitors to monitor the performance of the system and analyze data.

Planning and construction of the project took just over a year and a half and included securing a text amendment to the town’s ordinance to allow for the turbines.

Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Warren Judge said during the ceremony that it is fitting the project is taking off in Kitty Hawk


Local leaders joined the ribbon cutting. (Michelle Wagner)

“It was 115 years ago that a couple of brothers came to the Outer Banks also in search of wind,” he said. “As our country has moved from the industrial age to the technology and computer age, we too need to move from the fossil fuel age to the age of renewable energy.”

“We hope that the public will become a part of this, come visit and enjoy seeing these wind turbines turn,” said Mary Doswell, Dominion’s senior vice president for alternative energy.

Doswell said she envisions renewable power grids such as this to be just one of the new technological advances on the horizon. Fuels cells that run off natural gas and more efficient motors are not far behind, she said.

Judge was accompanied by more than 20 dignitaries for the official ribbon-cutting that took place in just the right conditions for the grid to start generating renewable energy.

While the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow, they were on Friday.

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Greg Hamby

October 20, 2014 7:39 pm

This project is poorly positioned. The wind turbines are in Kitty Hawk Woods and the turbine blades are below the tree line and placed only 100 ft from a thick forest to their East and South These turbines hardly ever turn on a N,E,or S wind. The only breeze that gets in there is a W wind and that has to be blowing over 15 to even start them turning. The Solar panels are slanted to the East and only 8ft off the ground also only 100 ft from the forest on the East and south sides of the location.
All in all this project is a joke. If this very nice equipment was sited in the right location it would generate some power. Where it is presently located it will not do much.


July 31, 2014 12:22 pm

According to the US Energy Information Agency, the average monthly power consumption in NC was 1077kWh in 2012. So yeah, if the power mentioned in the article was the max rating and Jon’s efficiency is correct, then it’s enough for 3-4 average houses. But it is, of course, a “microgrid” after all…


July 30, 2014 12:19 am

OBX Resident, I think your average consumption figure is a bit off; I take 400kW/day to mean 400kWh/day, as a constant load of 400kW would be 9600kWh/day. Either figure is way too high; 200A service is only capable of 48kW (don’t try that at home please), so we know the latter figure can’t be right; but even 400kWh/day would yield a monthly electric bill of $1,320 at $0.11 per kWh. Maybe you meant 40kWh/day.

Anyway, both wind and solar tend to generate an average of 20-30% their maximum rating in a good site. Thus, this project will probably average 5kW output, or 120kWh/day. Which is three homes.

OBX Resident

July 28, 2014 10:21 pm

To put this project into perspective, a 40-watt light bulb operating for 25 hours uses one kilowatt-hour. The average American home uses about 400 kilowatts per-day. The article states that the project’s turbine will generate 13 kilowatts of electricity and ground-mounted solar panels ‘can’ generate 6 kilowatts. What is the purpose of this study with all of the other smaller and larger scale project information that is out there? And also, what is the cost of the project? Dominion charges .11 cents per kilowatt hour. Thus, with ’75 kilowatt-hours of battery storage’, the system is storing about $8.25 of electricity. The carbon footprint of the people attending the ribbon cutting far out weighs the knowledge and energy that will come from this feel good nonsensical project.


July 28, 2014 3:04 pm

That’s enough capacity for maybe three houses.


July 28, 2014 2:21 pm

Note that they put the turbines in a wooded areawith much restriction on wind flow.

Travis McGee

July 28, 2014 2:16 pm

Baby steps, but at least they are headed in the right direction.

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