Publisher's Note: This article originally appeared in the Beaufort Observer.
In what could be a potentially significant obstacle to the plans to build a windfarm near Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Beaufort County the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service filed a position with the N. C. Utilities Commission Monday (12-5-11) raising concerns about the impact the huge windmills would have on migratory birds in the area.
The filing did not stipulate what the impact might be but rather than a determination would require a scientific study which might take two to three years to gather accurate data.
Some sources have reported that Invenergy, the company seeking the permit to locate the wind farm in the Pantego area is trying to get it into production before Federal stimulus subsidies expire and that could not likely be achieved if a thorough bird study is conducted first.
A recent workshop sponsored by the John Locke Foundation warned that wind farms are not viable sources of alternative energy because they are not cost effective. That is, the cost to produce the electricity exceeds the value of the power that is produced. Proponents argue that wind is an alternative to fossil fuels but studies have shown that wind power would only reduce CO2 emissions by a miniscule amount over twenty years. Other studies indicate that wind generated electrical power will actually increase the CO2 emissions from coal and oil powered plants because of the peaks and troughs created by variable wind speeds while having little impact on gas fired plants.
Sources tell us that regardless of what the N. C. Utilities Commission rules on the state permit, the objection from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife service will no doubt have a significant impact on the Federal Power Agency and its determination of whether to allow the wind farm near the Refuge.
Most of the support for the Pantego project has come from property owners who want to make money leasing their land for the project and from economic development interests. However, the Lock Foundation studies report that such projects are actually job killers when the higher cost of electricity is factored in and that such costs negatively impact, rather than enhance economic development except for very small special interests who benefit from the subsidies.