Two sides to North Carolina’s wind-energy debate

January 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Two sides to North Carolina's wind-energy debate

Dawn Kurry
Staff Writer- Triangle Business Journal

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Despite being poised with resources along the coast, 2014 won’t be the year for wind energy to take off in North Carolina. In fact, it may be at least another five years.

That’s according to engineer Eric Boessneck, of South Carolina-owned utility company Santee Cooper. He and Raleigh-based Jason Epstein of Baker Renewable Energy and member of the advisory board to N.C. Solar Center at N.C. State University, have discussed this at length, but don’t necessarily agree.

Epstein believes residential wind energy for North Carolinians is a pipe dream, and says, “Anybody who is doing wind development west of Raleigh is ripping people off. Light breezes don’t make power. North Carolina is still and muggy most of the year.”

But even coastal wind power is something Epstein says is far-fetched.

“It’s not just, ‘Are there resources?’ Who would use it? Can it be transported? The coast empties out after the summer,” says Epstein.

“They do have significant resources,” says Boessneck. “It’s windy out there. If you can lift a Wright brother’s plane off the ground out there, you can power a wind turbine.”

Boessneck says North Carolina has been wise to wait before jumping into expensive wind energy developments, and with the prices of solar panels dropping, there hasn’t been any big need for wind power.

“There is so much uncertainty, you can’t say, ‘No, it’ll never happen.’

One of the biggest challenges for North Carolina is that places like the Outer Banks are not densely populated, therefore it lacks in infrastructure, Boessneck says. “There are wide open spaces that have a lot of wind but no transmission lines. In five to 10 years, we’ll see utility jumping in on this.”

Reporter Dawn Kurry’s beats include money and small business news.

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