Odds and Ends on Energy

April 6, 2013

Wind Energy

Offshore: Last fall, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) finished  a  renewable energy lease plan for the waters of the Atlantic Ocean off the  North Carolina coast. BOEM  asked companies interested in  developing  wind energy in the designated lease areas to submit a proposal by March 7, 2013. Five companies sent in wind energy development proposals (Virginia Electric and Power Company, EDF Renewable Energy, Fisherman’s Energy LLC, Green Sail Energy LLC, and Outer Banks Ocean Energy LLC.) Find complete information on the proposals  here .  The BOEM website provides more information  on the   renewable energy lease plan  for  waters off the North Carolina coast.

Onshore (and near shore): Bills have been introduced in the N.C.  General Assembly  to create a state permitting process for wind energy facilities. Senate Bill 491  (= H 484)  creates a new state permit to be issued by  the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).   The permit review would look at both environmental impacts and  impacts on military operations.  Last year, two land-based wind  projects proposed for sites near the North Carolina coast (one in  Beaufort County and  the other in Pasquotank and Perquimans  counties)  raised concern at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base near Goldsboro.  (There are more onshore wind energy projects  proposed for  the coastal counties, but  not as far along in the planning/site approval process.)

The  military has two concerns about the siting of wind turbines:  radar interference caused by  movement of the blades  and  risk of  collision between low-flying military aircraft and wind turbines that may be more than  500 feet tall. North Carolina’s  coastal counties have a large amount of  military special use airspace, including training routes  that have “floors” as low as 200 feet.  Wind energy development could be a real  economic boost to  interior and largely rural areas of the coastal counties. The trick will be to make wind energy development compatible with military operations that  contribute significantly to the broader state economy and have an important role in national defense. The Department of Defense has a clearinghouse for review of development projects that may affect military operations.   The new state wind permit would provide a  way to consider military concerns in state decision-making.

Note: State jurisdiction only extends three miles from shore in the Atlantic Ocean, so most offshore wind projects  only require  federal permits.  North Carolina can influence federal permitting and lease decisions  for   offshore energy development  (whether wind turbines or oil and gas production) through the state’s coastal management program.

Study Links Underground Disposal of Wastewater and 2011 Oklahoma Earthquake

This  New York Times article provides a good overview of a recent study (published in the journal Geology) concluding that underground disposal of wastewater from oil production caused a 2011 Oklahoma earthquake that measured 5.7 on the Richter scale, destroyed a number of homes and injured two people. The Oklahoma Geological Survey reached a different conclusion.

Could Fracking and Renewable Energy Make a Happy  Marriage?

Kevin Drum,  writing  for Mother Jones, has an interesting blogpost on  fracking and renewable energy.