The governor of North Carolina has adopted the Biden administration’s push toward renewables. He is requiring the state to aim at supplying 8.0 gigawatts of electricity from offshore wind by 2040. Those turbines will be near Brunswick County and Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and thus near some of the state’s most appealing tourist spots. That has caused a ruckus because of their possible negative impacts on tourism.
In a series of essays, Jon Sanders of the John Locke Foundation points out that the Brunswick County turbines will be 853 feet high, while the Kitty Hawk turbines will be 1042 feet—taller than North Carolina’s tallest building and five times the height of the lighthouse at the states Cape Hatteras. (See illustration above). So, writes Sanders, the government is trying to assuage residents:
“On March 21, Cooper’s “N.C. Taskforce for Offshore Wind Economic Resource Strategies” (NC Towers) brought “industry experts, academics, and government officials” to try to quell Brunswick County residents’ concerns about offshore wind. From the sounds of it from WRAL’s ‘climate change reporter,’ attendees to the presentation were made to think that the turbines would be barely visible. For example:
‘Katharine Kollins, president of the non-profit Southeastern Wind Coalition (SEWC), says residents would likely only be able to see the turbines with binoculars.’
“Only with binoculars? That’s simply not accurate at all. There are plenty of reasons to expect large wind turbine arrays a few nautical miles offshore to be arresting features on the horizon, destroying residents’ views and sending tourists to unspoiled coastlines in other states.”
Sanders reports that in 2015, under the Obama administration, a study of proposed wind energy off the New York conducted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management found that “wind turbines up to 24 nautical miles (NM) off shore would ‘strongly attract the visual attention of views’ owing to their ‘strong contrast’ to the horizon—and from some vantage points wind turbines would ‘dominate”’the view.” These towers would have been 577 feet tall, well below the turbines currently under consideration.
“Coastal residents have significant reasons to worry about viewshed disruption from large arrays of enormous wind turbines off the coast—regardless of what self-interested government officials and advocacy groups try to tell them.”
Image above courtesy of the John Locke Foundation.