The second NC wind farm could begin construction this summer; more, climate change causes sneezing | WFAE 90.7
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State environmental regulators have approved a 45-turbine wind farm in eastern North Carolina that will be the state’s second. The Department of Environmental Quality announced on Tuesday that it has issued a permit for the Timbermill Wind project, which is planned on approximately 6,300 acres in Chowan County near Edenton.
Project developer Apex Clean Energy says the turbines will be a quarter to half a mile apart on managed forest land and farmland. Their capacity to generate 189 megawatts of electricity will be enough to power 47,000 homes, according to Apex.
An Apex spokesperson said the project would cost $218 million. Construction could begin as early as this summer and continue until 2024.
“Timbermill Wind represents a huge economic opportunity for Chowan County and the entire region,” the company said in a statement to WFAE. “The project will create more than 100 jobs during construction and become the county’s largest taxpayer – providing approximately $33 million in new local tax revenue over its life.”
The project still needs a county building permit and approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. A spokesperson said Apex will deliver power on the PJM multistate grid, which serves northeast North Carolina, Virginia and other mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states. It has yet to announce any specific power sales agreements.
North Carolina currently has only one operating wind farm, a 104-turbine project built near Elizabeth City in 2017 to power Amazon data centers.
Meanwhile, no less than three offshore wind farms are in the early planning stages. The federal government has signed leases with developers for one site off Kitty Hawk and two sites south of Bald Head Island.
The Timbermill Wind project is planned on 6,300 acres, north of Edenton, Chowan County. Sneezing before the official arrival of spring
Global warming is causing plants to bloom earlier — and for those of us with seasonal allergies, it’s lengthening the sneeze-and-sniffle season. Nationally, the growing season is on average about 15 days longer now than it was in 1970, according to climate reporting and research group Climate Central. This means plants are growing and flowering earlier and pollen, mold and other allergens are hitting us earlier than before.
Climate Central has compiled data for over 200 cities. Charlotte’s growing season has extended by an average of nine days, which is less than the national average. But that’s small consolation for those of us with runny noses and puffy eyes. See the full report from Climate Central.
SC eyes electricity market changes that could save millions of customers
A report on possible changes to the structure of South Carolina’s electricity market is drawing attention here north of the border because any changes there could have a big impact.
Members of a South Carolina General Assembly study committee received a more than two-hour briefing Tuesday on the draft report from Boston-based consulting firm The Brattle Group. He estimates that South Carolina electric customers could save a few million dollars to a few hundred million dollars a year if the state were to overhaul the way electricity is delivered, introducing competition and revenue gains. efficiency.
The report also says the reforms could also accelerate the adoption of renewable energy, which would help tackle climate change.
PJM is a regional electric grid operator serving an area from eastern North Carolina to Michigan. A report for South Carolina lawmakers says joining PJM could save electricity customers $362 million a year.
The consultants offered four options, ranging from a less formal power-sharing agreement to a major reform of energy production and distribution. These options are:
Have all South Carolina utilities join Duke Energy’s “Joint Dispatch Agreement” or JDA, a sort of regional power-sharing agreement. Duke’s utility in South Carolina is already part of the deal. Forming a Southeast regional “energy imbalance market,” or EIM, that manages real-time electricity generation and delivery in using the cheapest source of energy. Formation of a new Southeast Regional Transmission Organization, or RTO. The organization would coordinate, control and monitor a power grid across multiple states. This could improve reliability and increase the availability of cheaper and cleaner energy, such as solar and wind power, the report says. RTOs do not sell to individual customers; they buy and transmit power from electricity generators and resell it to companies that serve customers. South Carolina joining the existing PJM regional transmission organization, which stretches from northeast North Carolina to Michigan. This would provide all the benefits of an RTO and could happen faster than starting a new RTO from scratch, the report says.
The two RTO options would save the most money, according to the Brattle Group. A new Southeast RTO would have an annual profit of up to $183 million, while joining PJM could save up to $362 million.
Brattle’s report says joining PJM would be the best option and could happen in as little as 18 months. Working with other states and utilities to form a new regional transmission organization would require coordination across many groups and could take years, the report says.
South Carolina State Senator Tom Davis told John Downey at the Charlotte Business Journal last week that a decision by South Carolina to make changes would have a big impact on North Carolina.
The report itself suggests that joining PJM would work better if Duke Energy’s operations in North Carolina were included. The Charlotte-based utility is not currently owned by PJM or any other RTO. “It is theoretically (but probably not practically possible) that Duke territories in South Carolina could join PJM without the North Carolina portion, as this would require each Duke utility to reconfigure its internally pooled operations which currently span both states, which would introduce operational inefficiencies and also require significant new metering equipment.”
Duke Energy declined to comment on the report.
South Carolina lawmakers began talking about changes in the electricity market after two utilities in 2017 scrapped plans to expand the VC Summer nuclear plant north of Columbia. The project was years behind schedule and well over budget. The debacle eventually led to SC Electric & Gas being sold to Virginia-based Dominion Energy.