Commercial, Industrial, Regulation, Sourcing Renewables, Wind  -  January 23, 2017

NC lawmakers ask Trump to halt Amazon wind farm

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina have asked officials in the Trump administration to oppose, as is, an almost completed $400 million wind project that Amazon Web Services expects to buy clean energy from. 

The 300-MW wind project, Amazon Wind Farm U.S. East, is reportedly ready to begin generating electricity, though The Associated Press reported Jan. 19 that state legislators have appealed to the new administration to either squash or require that significant changes be made to the project, which they say poses a threat to national security. The lawmakers, according to the AP, argue that project's 104 wind turbines will interfere with the operation of a military radar installation.

Contrary to that claim, the Pentagon told the news agency that it disagrees, saying the Navy had "extensively studied the potential for interference with its Relocatable Over the Horizon Radar, or ROHTR, system," which is located in Chesapeake, Va., not far from the North Carolina border.

"The Navy is committed to working with developers to ensure that renewable energy projects are compatible with our mission and operations," the AP quoted Lt. Chika Onyekanne, a Navy spokesman, as saying. "While initial studies indicated a potential conflict between the Amazon wind project and the ROTHR, additional data collected since that time determined that the project is not likely to affect the mission."

Two economic development boards in Elizabeth City, N.C., where the wind farm is located, have also rejected the lawmakers' claims, according to the Daily Advance, a local newspaper. Since the letter was sent, two boards have adopted resolutions supporting the project and opposing state legislative efforts to squash it, the paper reported Jan. 19.

The AP, in its report, cited President Donald Trump's previous oppositions to wind farms — including a battle over an offshore facility in Scotland he said ruins the view from his nearby golf course and his "beef" with Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos as background to the story. 

Amazon Web Services is the cloud computing arm of Amazon.com Inc. 

The project in North Carolina, which has faced prior opposition, is being developed by Iberdrola S.A. subsidiary Avangrid Renewables. According to the AP, Amazon has contracted to buy 100% of the facility's output to power its Virginia data centers; a spokesman for Avangrid told the agency that the project is expected to come online by the end of January.  

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