Southeast Wind Energy Resource Center
The Southeast Wind Energy Resource Center serves stakeholders in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Contact your resource center to learn more about wind resources, projects, and information in your area.
Focus areas: Tall towers; military installation impacts; land-based utility-scale projects; and wind import power purchase agreements, which bring low-cost wind energy to the Southeast from other regions. The RRC also specializes in offshore wind as the Southeast is well positioned to play a key role in the nascent U.S. offshore wind industry.
Success Story: North Carolina Legislators Tour Amazon Wind Farm
In 2017, the Southeastern Wind Coalition (SEWC) organized and led North Carolina state legislators on two tours of the Amazon Wind Farm U.S. East, the first wind energy project in the state. The tours of the site near Elizabeth City, North Carolina, were meant to educate stakeholders about the project's economic benefits and potential impacts, including those to military operations as there is a Navy radar system in the region.
Project developer Avangrid Renewables joined the tour with the area’s congressional representative, Bob Steinburg, as well as state legislators and county commissioners, to help highlight the robust collaborative outreach efforts of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Regional Resource Centers (RRCs) across the country. As the primary RRC for wind energy in the southeastern part of the country, the SEWC focuses on providing fact-based, unbiased information to provide the best information to stakeholders and decision makers to help advance the wind industry in ways that result in net economic benefits to industry, utilities, ratepayers, and citizens of the Southeast.
"These tours were a fantastic opportunity to educate lawmakers on a resource previously undeveloped in North Carolina," said Katharine Kollins, president of the SEWC. “Few people in North Carolina have been exposed to wind energy, and this was a great chance to get some of our elected officials out to the Amazon Wind Farm, allow them to see how well the turbines fit in the existing farming community, and learn more about the siting process, especially as it pertains to the research and mitigation measures taken with the Department of Defense.”
After an initial 2012 study raised a concern about the planned 150-turbine Amazon wind project and its impact on the U.S. Navy’s Relocatable Over-The-Horizon Radar (ROTHR), project developers worked with the Department of Defense (DOD) Siting Clearinghouse for more than 2 years to ensure that the wind farm was compatible with military operations.
During this effort, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory conducted modeling of the project for the DOD Siting Clearinghouse and determined that a reduced configuration of 104 turbines was acceptable, allowing the wind farm to move forward.
In 2014, the project developer and the DOD signed an agreement designed to mitigate any potential adverse post-construction impacts. As part of the agreement, the parties will continue to monitor and analyze impacts on the ROTHR during the first year of wind farm operation to ensure minimal interference and discuss mitigation strategies to prevent any adverse impacts. The agreement also includes a caveat that upon notification by the Navy, the project will curtail operations "for a national security or defense purpose."
The 208-megawatt Amazon Wind Farm began operation on February 9, 2017. Located in Perquimans and Pasquotank counties, the $400 million development supported 500 jobs during peak construction with more than 30 North Carolina-based companies involved and more than $18 million spent locally. The project currently supports 17 permanent jobs with an average annual salary of $80,000, well above the average annual wage of $31,619 in Perquimans County and $33,881 in Pasquotank County. It also provides more than 60 landowners approximately $624,000 in total annual land lease payments. In addition, Perquimans and Pasquotank Counties will receive $520,000 in tax revenue over the first year that will increase on an annual basis, making the Amazon Wind Farm the largest taxpayer in both counties.
With future wind energy projects under development in the Southeast, the SEWC will continue to address regional concerns related to wind energy to ensure informed decision making for years to come.