North Carolina’s first wind farm starts operations

The Amazon Wind Farm US East, powered by Avangrid Renewables at Desert Wind, in North Carolina has started operations.

The facility reached full commercial operation this month and began delivering power in December 2016. It features 104 modern wind turbines that will produce 208MW of energy, enough to power the equivalent of approximately 61,000 US homes each year.

Avangrid Renewables president and CEO James P. Torgerson said: “We are delighted to add the Amazon Wind Farm US East to our growing portfolio of renewable power generation facilities, which are providing clean energy for companies and communities across the United States.

“We are committed to our vision of leading the transformation of the US energy industry by developing, building and operating the clean energy infrastructure of the future.”

The 18-month construction put more than 30 North Carolina-based companies to work, featured a peak of more than 500 workers, and resulted in more than $18m spent locally by Avangrid Renewables.

The total of landowner payments and taxes will begin injecting more than $1.1m into the local economy each year.

Pasquotank County Board of Commissioners chairman Cecil Perry said: “Almost everyone in the community knows someone who worked on the wind farm, sold or rented something that helped build the wind farm, or owns land where the project was built.

“These jobs, and this nearly $400m investment in a rural part of North Carolina, are welcome — everyone in the county will benefit from the long-term property tax payments.”

The wind farm’s daily operation comprises a permanent crew of 17 on-site technicians, led by US Army veteran and North Carolina native Chris Long.

As the result of a contract with Amazon Web Services (AWS), an company, the energy generated will be delivered into the electrical grid that supplies both current and future AWS Cloud data centers. AWS has a long-term commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy usage for their global infrastructure footprint.

AWS Energy Strategy director Nat Sahlstrom said: “At the close of 2016 we announced that AWS had exceeded 40% renewable energy and set a new goal to achieve 50% by the end of 2017 in a continued march toward our long-term commitment of achieving 100% renewable energy usage for our global infrastructure footprint.

“We’re very excited that Amazon Wind Farm US East is live and delivering energy to the grid powering our current and future AWS data centers and are excited to continue to accelerate our work in this space.”

One of nearly 60 landowners associated with the project, Horace Pritchard said: “Farms have been growing corn, soybeans, and wheat for a long time here, and the wind farm revenue means a lot of families are protected from pricing swings, floods or droughts going forward.

“We’re just adding another locally-grown crop to our fields, with very little ground taken out of production, and the improved roads really help with access, so it’s a great fit here.”

Avangrid Renewables’ US CEO Frank Burkhartsmeyer said: “Expanding the wind industry into North Carolina came about thanks in large part to collaboration with AWS, a supportive community, and improving technology.

“Ultimately, a wind farm this size has to offer competitive energy and complement the existing use of the land, so the strong winds and farmland here made for a great match.”