Sierra Club tells NHC wind power means jobs

The North Carolina Sierra Club is making presentations to local governments in New Hanover County this week, promoting the economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind farm development. The Sierra Club will make the same presentation Tuesday night at the Wilmington City Council and plans on making similar pitches to Brunswick and Onslow counties in the future.

The possibility that North Carolina could be a leader in wind energy production in the United States was one of the main themes on Monday. There are six states along the East Coast working on wind energy projects, and the Sierra Club argued that North Carolina is “uniquely positioned” to be a leader in offshore wind turbines.

“It is not a thing of the future,” said Mac Montgomery, the former mayor of Kure Beach and a Sierra Club volunteer. “North Carolina needs to be part of it.” A University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill report found several offshore areas, mostly off the state’s three capes, where it’s probably feasible to develop large-scale wind farms. Some of the areas are close to areas in both New Hanover, including an area near the South Carolina border.

Carina Barnett-Loro, the Sierra Club’s project coordinator, told the commissioners that wind energy is widely used in Europe, and could provide more than 293,000 jobs in the United States by 2030. Many of those jobs could be in Wilmington since the wind turbines would need support and maintenance. Barnett-Loro said offshore wind power would create more than 9,000 long-term jobs in the region and the economic benefit of offshore wind after 20 years would mean more than $22 billion in investments and revenue to North Carolina.

“It means jobs for this county,” Montgomery said. “It means jobs staying here.” The federal government has made it clear that they want local government and stakeholder involvement and approval for any offshore wind farm projects – even if they are in federal waters, which start 3 miles offshore. The goal of the presentation Monday was to get New Hanover County Board information so they would pass a resolution supporting offshore wind power. Carolina Beach, Wrightsville Beach, and Kure Beach have all passed resolutions supporting offshore wind farm resolutions, the Sierra Club said.

Kevin Maurer,