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Residents eye coastal-wind turbine simulations

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By Laura Lewis, Reporter

CAROLINA SHORES — Local leaders and residents are taking a closer look at how wind turbines might appear off the local coast.

At an Aug. 14 meeting, they reviewed results of a visualization study conducted by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to “accurately show” how wind turbines could be viewed from the shore during various weather conditions and times of day.

Posted around the event hall at Brunswick Community College’s South Brunswick Islands Center were panoramic showing daytime and nighttime simulations of how the turbines would appear 10 miles off the coast.

“What I see at 10 miles is not a problem for me,” Sunset Beach resident Jan Harris said as she viewed the pictures. “You can see (the turbines), but it’s not offensive.”

Her friend, Sue Weddle, said she wanted to see, by way of the simulations, whether the turbines would appear too close or would be OK.

“Admittedly, my eyesight is not perfect,” she said.

Two local mayors — Walter Goodenough of Carolina Shores and Richard Cerrato of Sunset Beach — asked questions.

Goodenough wondered if a barge would be used at the turbines’ site.

Brian Krevor, BOEM environmental protection specialist, said, “That’s something we’ve heard of.”

Cerrato asked how power would be distributed.

Krevor said buildings would be on land to act as transmission centers for power to be distributed to grids.

“Those kind of details will be way down the line,” he added.

Cerrato wondered about benefits to stakeholders — “the citizens of Sunset Beach who have to look at (the turbines) across the water.”

“I can’t really say one way or the other,” Krevor said, adding they’ve been talking about community benefits and it’s something for Brunswick County to look into.

“That kind of stuff is down the line and out of our jurisdiction,” he said.

In response to a woman’s question, Krevor said the turbines could produce “a large amount of power — up to 800 to 900 megawatts of electricity. We don’t know how much power needs are in this area.”

One man suggested the turbines could be blue so they might be less visible.

Krevor said the turbines would be “Coast Guard-compliant,” with red lights at night.

“Perfect visibility doesn’t occur very often in the coastal environment,” he said.

Another man asked whether water depth would determine if the project is economically feasible.

“It is a constraint when we look at areas,” Krevor said.

He said simulations are of the entire North Carolina coastline, with the state mandating potential “leased zones” sites in the ocean and 200 turbines implemented in every simulation.

In response to Goodenough’s question about how many years it would take before this becomes reality, Krevor said North Carolina is a little behind on the process.

“We want to make sure these can go out safely and not (impede) vessels,” he said, reiterating they are working with the U.S. Coast Guard, in response to another woman’s question about how much money would be provided from the government.

Krevor said there have been state initiatives to subsidize this type of project. He also cited developer money that would be raised through investors.

“We look at the potential environmental/ socioeconomic impact” first, Krevor said.

 

Laura Lewis is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or llewis@brunswickbeacon.com