Give it a chance

Published 1:00 am Thursday, May 5, 2011

Perhaps it is a step, albeit a small step, toward easing, if not ending, our dependence on fossil fuel, especially foreign oil, as energy sources.

On Tuesday, the North Carolina Utilities Commission approved a 300-megawatt wind farm in eastern North Carolina. The project still requires numerous additional permits before 150 turbines can be scattered over 31 square miles of farmland in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties.

The Desert Wind Energy Project, proposed by the American subsidiary of a Spanish energy company, is scheduled to start producing power at the end of 2012. The Spanish company is reported to be the world’s largest developer of wind-energy projects. The Desert Wind Energy Project would be one of the largest wind farms in the United States, producing enough electricity for (on average) about 55,000 to 70,000 homes a year.

That would be more than enough for Beaufort County homes.

Unlike oil or coal used at many power plants to help generate electricity, the wind is a renewable source of energy. Wind, the bulk movement of air, is plentiful at times, sometimes too plentiful. As wind moves turbines, electricity is generated. Unlike oil and coal, which have to be removed from the Earth, wind does not require human harvesters.

Is wind power the sole solution to easing, or ending, our dependency on fossil fuels we use in abundance to produce electricity? No.

It’s one solution of many, but it’s one solution that needs to be further developed.

As with nuclear power, wind power, including offshore wind farms, has its supporters and its critics.

Audra Parker, CEO of the Alliance to Protect the Nantucket Sound, is one who opposes wind farms in certain offshore locations. The alliance is a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to long-term preservation of the Nantucket Sound. It was formed in 2001 in response to a proposal from Cape Wind Associates to build a wind farm in Nantucket Sound.

“We are opposed to the specific location in Nantucket Sound because of environmental impacts, impacts on fisheries, impacts on historic preservation, navigation safety, aviation and a whole host of public interest values,” she once said. “The project is also extremely expensive and will add billions of dollars of unnecessary costs to Massachusetts residents and businesses when there are other clean alternatives available at the fraction of the cost of Cape Wind.”

She makes her points well.

There’s opposition to the proposed wind farm near Elizabeth City. That opposition makes its points well.

If wind power will help us reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, including foreign oil, then it deserves a chance to be developed, refined and put to use.

If it’s a proper solution and implemented correctly, wind power will make its points and make them well.

It needs a chance to see just how well it can make those points.