Second NC wind farm could start construction this summer; plus, changing climate brings on sneezes
This story appeared first in WFAE reporter David Boraks' weekly newsletter. Subscribe today to get Climate News straight to your email inbox each week.
State environmental regulators have approved a 45-turbine wind farm in eastern North Carolina that will be the state's second. The Department of Environmental Quality announced Tuesday that it issued a permit for the Timbermill Wind project, which is planned on about 6,300 acres in Chowan County, near Edenton.
The project's developer, Apex Clean Energy, says the turbines will be one-quarter to one-half mile apart on managed timberland and farmland. Their capacity to generate 189 megawatts of electricity will be enough to power 47,000 homes, according to Apex.
An Apex spokesman said the project will cost $218 million. Construction could begin as soon as this summer and continue through 2024.
"Timbermill Wind represents an enormous economic opportunity for Chowan County and the entire region," the company said in a statement to WFAE. "The project will create over 100 jobs during construction, and become the county's single largest taxpayer - providing about $33 million in new local tax revenue over its lifetime."
The project still needs a county building permit. The wind farm obtained clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration in Jan. 22 that the wind farm would not interfere with aviation. The company will have to notify the FAA within five days once construction reaches its tallest height.
A spokesman said Apex will deliver the electricity onto the multistate PJM grid, which serves northeastern North Carolina, Virginia and other states in the mid-Atlantic and Midwest. It has not announced any specific power sales agreements yet.
North Carolina currently has only one operating wind farm, a 104-turbine project built near Elizabeth City in 2017 to power Amazon data centers.
Meanwhile, as many as three wind farms off the coast are in the early planning stages. The federal government has signed leases with developers for one site off Kitty Hawk and two sites south of Bald Head Island.
Sneezing before spring officially arrives
The warming climate has plants blooming earlier — and for those of us with seasonal allergies, that's making the sneezing and sniffling season longer. Nationwide, the growing season averages about 15 days longer now than in 1970, according to the climate reporting and research group Climate Central. That means plants are leafing out and blooming earlier and pollen, mold and other allergens are hitting us sooner than before.
Climate Central has compiled data for more than 200 cities. Charlotte's growing season has expanded by an average of nine days, which is below the national average. But that's small consolation to those of us with runny noses and puffy eyes. See Climate Central's full report.