NC Residents Revolt Against The State’s Green Energy Mandate

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Perquimans County, N.C. placed a four-month ban on a massive wind energy farm last week after residents complained the planned 100 to 150 turbines will be ugly and noisy.

“When these things come in, it will end the beauty. I’ll have 600-feet-tall turbines on three sides of my house.” local resident and farmer Tommy Harrell told The Virginian Pilot, echoing the opinion of many locals that the 60-story wind turbines could ruin their neighborhoods.

The wind project, called Timbermill Wind, could cost $300 million dollars, but will only create 10 permanent jobs for a local operations and maintenance facility, according to the project’s website. Timbermill is meant to support North Carolina’s green energy mandate, which requires the state get 12.5 percent of its power from green energy sources by 2021.

Electricity rates in North Carolina have increased 2.5 times faster than the national average because of the green energy mandate, according to the conservative John Locke Foundation. The mandate has also cost the state’s economy $14.4 billion in income losses and 24,000 jobs annually because new wind power is much more expensive than existing coal, nuclear, or natural gas power.

The wind industry, on the other hand, says green energy laws create jobs and diversify state energy portfolios. Wind proponents frequently cite the success of Texas’ mandate because the state now gets 10 percent of its electricity from wind. Texas also generates more wind energy than any other state.

The state legislature is considering freezing the mandate as evidence mounts it’s hurting job growth and causing energy prices to spike. The current freeze being discussed will keep the state’s green energy goal at 6 percent of total electricity production, preventing it from reaching the original goal of 12.5 percent green energy production by 2021.

In 2014, Ohio froze its mandate at 2.5 percent for two years, pushing the final target of 12.5 percent back to 2026. West Virginia overturned its mandate outright in February.

When North Carolina passed its mandate in 2008, 28 other states had similar policies forcing more green energy onto the grid. But with more state legislatures in the hands of Republicans, green energy mandates are being repealed or scaled back across the country. States like Kansas, Ohio, West Virginia, Texas, Michigan, New Mexico and Colorado have repealed their renewable energy mandates.

Kansas’ green energy mandate caused 5,500 fewer jobs and $4,367 less income per household, according to a Utah State University study.

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