Governor Pat McCrory signed into law landmark legislation (H.B. 484) today that creates a framework for the establishment of wind energy facilities in North Carolina and signals the governor's continued support for an "all-of-the-above" energy plan.
"This law will help unleash our state's energy resources to power our economy and enable us to harness those resources in a safe, reliable and cost-effective manner," said Governor McCrory. "Our pursuit of energy from biofuels, clean coal, natural gas, solar, nuclear and wind are part of a prosperous energy future in North Carolina. However, we could not have had such comprehensive legislation related to wind energy without strong support from the military, the wind industry, environmental groups and local communities."
"The Permitting of Wind Energy Facilities" law states that the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources must issue a permit before a wind energy operation can begin in North Carolina. The legislation provides a framework for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to assist wind developers in identifying suitable locations for wind energy facilities in North Carolina and the steps that follow in the permitting process.
The law requires people pursuing wind energy projects to meet a timeline of requirements during the application process. It also establishes a public notification and hearing process to alert nearby citizens, local governments, military installations and others of an applicant's intentions before an application is filed.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources can deny a permit if there are issues that have adverse impacts to private landowners as well as the environment, natural resources, endangered and threatened species, cultural and recreational sites, or military operations and training.
"This is a great law because it shows that we are serious about our responsibility for balancing our environmental and economic interests, including North Carolina's strong military presence," said N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Secretary John Skvarla. "We can and will protect the environment and our citizens, while also creating a clear regulatory path for the development of wind energy in North Carolina."
The law establishes fees to site or expand a wind energy facility and gives DENR the authority to impose civil penalties if a facility is constructed without a permit or in violation of the permit.
A financial assurance requirement in the law will ensure the applicant has sufficient funds to decommission and reclaim the facility when the facility is no longer operating.
To see the complete text of "The Permitting of Wind Energy Facilities" legislation, visit: http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2013/Bills/House/PDF/H484v8.pdf.