|” A steady breeze that ruffled plants growing in the soybean field was a good sign, as North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory joined business and community leaders to break ground on the state’s first wind power project, July 14, in Elizabeth City.
Spanning farm fields in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties, the Amazon Wind Farm US East, operated by Iberdrola Renewables at Desert Wind, will be the first utility-scale wind farm in North Carolina and one of the first in the southeastern United States. The proposed facility, if fully built out, could deploy 150 wind turbines that would generate 300 megawatts (MW) of power at full capacity and provide millions of dollars in tax and landowner revenue for decades. The first phase, a 208 MW project, will feature 104 wind turbines.
“The Amazon Wind Farm takes a significant step toward diversifying North Carolina’s energy resources,” said Governor McCrory. “Bringing onshore wind production to North Carolina is part of my ‘all of the above’ energy strategy. By diversifying our energy resources, we can provide affordable, reliable and secure sources of energy that are environmentally clean and safe.”
“Breaking ground on North Carolina’s first wind farm is a perfect demonstration that getting to a competitive, clean energy future takes a team effort,” said Frank Burkhartsmeyer, Iberdrola Renewables’ U.S. chief executive officer. “A wind farm of this scale and complexity wouldn’t be possible without Governor McCrory’s leadership, community support and an exciting collaboration with Amazon Web Services.”
More than 100 people attended the groundbreaking ceremony, and guests were in a convivial mood. The evening prior,Amazon Web Services, Inc., announced it had contracted with Iberdrola Renewables to buy the energy to supply its current and future AWS Cloud data centers.
In addition to generating wind energy, the project will generate tax dollars for Pasquotank and Perquimans counties. The total of tax revenues and payments to landowners for the first phase of the project will inject more than $1.1 million into the local economy each year. About 250 construction jobs will support the 18-month building period, and 10 permanent jobs will be based at the wind farm when it is in full operation, anticipated during the fourth quarter of 2016.
“This project will deliver substantial and long-term local economic benefits,” said Wayne Harris, director of the Elizabeth City | Pasquotank County Economic Development Commission. “Not only will it be the first wind farm in the state, it will be the largest taxpayer in each of the counties when it gets built, putting money into the pockets of local working families.”