Lawmakers in the state Senate have passed a bill that would prohibit wind farms from being built in most of central and eastern North Carolina. Bill sponsor Sen. Harry Brown (R-Onslow) says the measure protects airspace the state's military bases use in training exercises.
"The military affairs commission has been working on this for many years because we knew about the conflicts of possible wind energy moving into North Carolina," Brown said in an interview after the vote.
The commission compiled maps from military bases showing which flight paths they use at lower altitudes. Those paths cover almost all of central and eastern North Carolina, as well some western parts of the state. Brown said the bill will help ensure the state maintains its appeal to the Department of Defense.
"I can't tell you enough how much pressure is being put on these facilities that are in danger of a possible closure. Anything we can do to protect them is important," Brown said on the Senate floor.
Many senate Democrats say the measure will hurt the economy in eastern North Carolina, where some wind farms are already in the works. Sen. Floyd McKissick (D-Durham) voted against the provision, along with almost all Senate Democrats and one Republican.
"My greatest concern is that it is targeting wind-generating facilities and operations, and it is narrowly and singularly targeting them, rather than all tall structures, whether buildings or elevated water storage tanks or anything else that may be out there," he said.
The bill goes to the House for another vote.