State lawmakers held off voting Tuesday on a proposal to ban wind power development in the mountains of western North Carolina. The delay was met with relief by wind power advocates who harbor dreams of erecting windmills in the Appalachian mountains, home to some of the best wind energy resources in the nation.
The chief sponsor of the proposal, Sen. Charles Albertson, said the proposed ban generated opposition from supporters of wind power, a clean form of energy that doesn't generate air pollution or greenhouse gases.
"We heard from a lot of people form the mountains who supported the bill in its original form," said Albertson, a Democrat who represents Duplin, Lenoir and Sampson counties in the southeastern part of the state. He was referring to an earlier form of the proposal that would have permitted windmills in the mountains as long as they didn't obstruct views from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Appalachian Trail and other tourist areas.
The Senate Committee on Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources on Tuesday did approve another part of the wind energy proposal that would regulate wind power development on the coast. The proposal comes with restrictions and conditions to protect wildlife, tourism and recreation.
The proposed ban on mountain wind development would have barred the harnessing of nearly 800 megawatts of wind energy, a capacity equivalent to a mid-size nuclear power plant.
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