Hearing set on proposed wind farm

Published 12:36 am Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The public will have an opportunity to comment at a public hearing on a wind farm proposed for the Pantego area in eastern Beaufort County.

The N.C. Utilities Commission scheduled the hearing for 7 p.m. Nov. 17 in the District Courtroom of the Beaufort County Courthouse. The hearing is the first of several meetings on the project set by the commission as part of that panel’s review of the project this week.

An evidentiary hearing on the project is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. in Room 2115 of the Dobbs Building in Raleigh.

The nation’s largest independent owners of wind-generating facilities in the United States are behind the plan.

Pantego Wind Energy LLC, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Invenergy, earlier this month filed an application with the commission for permission to build 49 492-foot-tall turbines on 11,000 acres near Terra Ceia and Pantego.

If approved, construction on the project could begin as early as the second quarter of 2012, with commercial operations beginning as early as December 2012, according to information provided by Invenergy about the project.

If completed, the wind farm would be connected to Dominion’s substation near Pantego. Electricity generated by the wind farm would be transmitted along electrical transmission lines operated by PJM Interconnection, a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia, according to company filings with the commission.

Recent changes in state law have prompted increased interest in renewable energy in North Carolina.

Eastern Beaufort County is gaining that attention from wind- and solar-energy suppliers because of its relatively flat terrain, winds of sufficient speed to operate wind turbines and its prime location at the end of the PJM transmission lines.

The Beaufort County project is one of two projects under development by Invenergy. The company expects to file permit applications for a project near Hales Lake, Va., by the end of 2011.

Written statements on the project may be filed with the Chief Clerk, N.C. Utilities Commission, 4325 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-4325.

The commission regulates the rates and services of all public utilities, including electric, telephone, natural gas, water, wastewater, water resale, household-goods transportation, buses, brokers and ferryboats, in North Carolina.