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N.C. survey supports wind energy

Article Published: Apr. 22, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
N.C. survey supports wind energy

The public supports more wind energy, though attitudes are still mixed as the state Legislature prepares for consideration of a bill that could limit ridge top development of commercial wind farms.

A recent poll by Public Policy Polling shows support for more renewable energy. The poll, released last week, said 85 percent of respondents favored getting more electricity from wind energy, 82 percent wanted more from solar power, and 84 percent wanted to see more emphasis on encouraging energy efficiency in the state.

Respondents were evenly divided on whether the state should get more of its power from hydroelectric projects, nearly two-thirds said the state should use less coal-derived power, and a third said the state should use more nuclear power.

Fifty six percent said they had seen a modern wind turbine, the same percentage that had a "very favorable" attitude toward them. Seven percent had a negative perception, and 43 percent were neutral about the effect of wind turbines on the landscape.

Specifically addressing mountain ridges, 35 percent of the public surveyed said wind turbines should be encouraged and promoted, 45 percent said they should be allowed in appropriate circumstances, and 10 percent said they should be prohibited.

Eighty percent said a single large turbine should be encouraged or allowed on mountain ridge land, and that figure decreased to 71 percent for large scale wind farms on ridges. More people favored allowing single residential or smaller scale wind turbines on ridges than favored large scale turbines.
When asked whether more wind turbines in the mountains would make the respondent more or less likely to want to live in the region, 43 percent were more likely, 44 percent said "no difference," and 13 percent were less likely. Opposition to wind turbines on public and national forest lands rose to 20 percent of respondents, while two thirds supported them.

When asked about legislation currently being considered by the General Assembly, 21 percent felt it was appropriate to restrict mountaintop wind turbines to 100 feet or less in height, generally precluding the development of commercial wind farms. Another 35 percent felt that limit was too restrictive, and 16 percent felt limiting ridge top turbines was far too restrictive.

Two-thirds of respondents favored both state and county permitting of proposed wind turbines and allowing them to be denied if the project was considered inappropriate.

The Boone Town Council adopted a resolution last week supporting local regulation of wind energy, and the area has been recognized as progressive in the field.

Appalachian State University operates a microwind research station on Beech Mountain, as well as one of the largest turbines in the state.

Watauga was the first county in the state to adopt a local ordinance for permitting and regulating wind turbines.

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