By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
The Carolina Beach Town Council has been asked by Bald Head Island leaders to consider adopting a resolution opposing the Federal Government issuing leases for companies to locate hundreds of wind turbines within view of our area beaches. (See report on page 1-A).
At first glance it sounds like a bunch of rich ocean front property owners upset about clean energy upsetting their perfect ocean views. That's not the case. Many think it's a great idea as opposed to oil rigs and won't be that much of a distraction on the horizon with a few tall wind turbines. That might be the case if it were only a few turbines and peaking just above the horizon.
That's not the case in this particular situation. In fact, it's more like 11 miles offshore with over a hundred towers around 500' or more in height (accounting for the large blade length adding to the overall height.)
Bald Head Island seems to support locating the towers at a minimum of 24 nautical miles from shore. Anywhere within that distance and they say it will ruin their "viewshed" or ocean views and views from the Historic Old Baldy Lighthouse.
Trying to envision what those towers would look like from shore isn't easy. But thankfully the people at the United States Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) put together a simulation you can view online. It doesn't translate well into news print, but you can access the link at their website at www.boem.gov/North-Carolina/
Looking at the simulation, it's evident that Bald Head Island leaders are 100% correct. It will ruin the skyline of ocean views.
Leaders in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach should adopt similar resolutions to the one adopted by Bald Head Island leaders last month.
Clean wind energy is excellent. We welcome it. BOEM has set greater distances for other areas such as the State of Virginia and should do the same for our area. 24 nautical miles and not one mile closer.
The simulation document presented by the BOEM on their website states among other things, "During the day there is visibility to 10 nm (nautical miles) at least 50% of the day 34.8% of the time, or 127 days per year (this drops to 27.3% in the summer due to hazy conditions)."
They present a lot of information to digest, but the most powerful information comes in the form of simulated photos of a wind farm 10 nautical miles off shore.
It's not appealing to see row after row of towers 15 nautical miles out. In our case over one hundred in an area of 133,590 acres.
The BOEM should study the impacts on the "viewshed" area off our shores.
Our local tourism based economy has one major attraction; the beach. It's free and part of its appeal is the horizon that's only occasionally interrupted by fishing boats, a shrimp boat, maybe a passing large shipping vessel. Not a horizon populated with tall white towers. Even if they can only be seen a percentage of the time throughout the year based on climate conditions - haze in the summer or more clear in the winter - it will still present a visual impact most of the time during daylight hours throughout the year when located too close to shore.
Everyone agrees that wind energy is a great alternative to burning fossil fuels.
Nuclear Power is clean and has - with a few exceptions - operated at plants around the world with out fail for decades.
Wind energy could some day help reduce the required output of those plants by supplying a portion of our power consumption.
What can you do?
Go online and educate yourself. Then attend the Council's meeting on December 1st at Town Hall at 9AM.
If you can't attend, visit the Town's website at www.carolinabeach.org and email your elected officials to voice your opinion of support or opposition.