A little more than four years ago, Amazon Wind Farm US East began operations in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties. The same renewable energy company that built the Amazon facility plans to build a similar site off the coast of northeastern North Carolina.
Avangrid Renewables began operation of its $600 million Amazon site in 2016. The 208-megawatt wind farm occupies about 22,000 acres spread across western Pasquotank and eastern Perquimans counties, but the facility’s 104 turbines and supporting infrastructure actually take up about 250 acres. The turbines are nearly 500-feet tall and began transmitting power to Dominion Power’s transmission line in December 2016.
In July 2015, former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s office announced that online retailer Amazon would purchase the power produced at the local site. The retailer uses the roughly 670,000 megawatt hours of power annually generated by the wind farm to power its data center for its Amazon Web Services.
Avangrid Renewables’ latest project involves construction of an offshore wind farm off the Outer Banks. That’s according to a PBS North Carolina report from February. The Kitty Hawk Offshore Wind Project will cover more than 122,000 acres about 27 miles east of Corolla, according to PBS. Construction is planned to begin in 2024.
The Kitty Hawk project will be done in phases and when completed in 2030, should produce enough power to serve 700,000 homes, according to PBS.
Local economic development officials like Larry Lombardi in Currituck County believe development of both the Kitty Hawk wind farm and a second planned off the coast of Virginia Beach, Virginia, could benefit the local area.
Noting there are more than 6,000 components in an offshore wind turbine, Lombardi sees the potential for part suppliers to locate jobs in places like Currituck.
“That is a target for sure,” Lombardi said. “It will be some manufacturing, some assembly, a combination of things. It would be secondary suppliers.”
Meanwhile, another renewable energy firm hopes to build a wind farm in Chowan County.
Apex Clean Energy Inc. is moving forward with plans for its $300 million Timbermill Wind project.
Natasha Montague, spokeswoman for Apex Clean Energy, said Timbermill Wind was granted a conditional use permit by Chowan County in November 2016. The project hit a roadblock in July 2017 when state legislators approved an 18-month wind moratorium as part of House Bill 589, titled Competitive Energy Solutions for NC. The moratorium has since expired and Apex Clean Energy has resumed plans for the Timbermill site.
“Over the next couple of years, several attempts were made on the state level to extend the wind moratorium,” Montague said. “The Timbermill team worked diligently on the state level to prevent extensions of the wind moratorium. The wind moratorium expired in December 2018; now that it is not likely to be extended, we resumed work on the project.”
Apex Clean Energy must next submit applications to the N.C. Utilities Commission for the certificates necessary to gain final approval for the project.
Apex Clean Energy anticipates the Timbermill wind farm starting commercial operation in 2023.
Over its projected 30-year lifespan, the Timbermill project is expected to produce more than $30 million in tax revenue for Chowan County. By comparison, revenue produced from the land’s current use — agriculture and timber production — would be about $15,672 over the same 30-year period.
The Timbermill project is expected to create 152 temporary construction jobs, as well as increase local spending during construction. The wind farm is projected to generate $20 million in economic output and $5.5 million in associated labor income. Once operational, Timbermill Wind is expected to employ 10 full-time workers to maintain the wind facility’s turbines.
Magnum Economics released an economic impact study of the Timbermill Wind project last winter. The study can be viewed online at www.timbermillwind.com. At the home page, click on the economic impact study link located in the upper right corner.