Two North Carolina counties recently granted conditional use permits for building the state’s first commercial-scale wind energy project. The “Desert Wind” energy project is planned to span 20,000 acres of land in Perquimans and Pasquotank counties. Atlantic Wind, a subsidiary of the world’s largest wind energy company, Iberdrola Renewables, is developing the 150-turbine project near Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Conditional use permits are local land use entitlements without which the project could not proceed. Other regulatory approvals are necessary before construction will begin.
In separate hearings, each county’s Board of County Commissioners granted a conditional use permit following six hours of expert testimony covering engineering, environmental and operational aspects of the project. The permit approvals follow the counties’ previous approvals of economic incentives for the project, which is the largest commercial investment ever in these two counties.
Construction of the wind energy project would provide investment and jobs to the area and, if it reaches commercial operation, “Desert Wind” would provide 300 megawatts of clean, sustainable power to between 55,000 and 70,000 homes.
Lawyers in the Energy and Environmental practices of Parker Poe represented Iberdrola Renewables and its Atlantic Wind subsidiary in hearings before both Boards. Henry Campen, a partner in the Firm’s Renewable Energy Practice and the team leader conducting the permit hearings, noted that “Securing the conditional use permits is a big step in bringing Desert Wind to North Carolina.”