A state senator and renewable energy supporters say the state should cash in on wind.
The NWF 2012 offshore wind report says that up to 20 percent of the state’s power could come from offshore wind farms. The National Wildlife Federation looked at all states’ potential and says South Carolina can generate the power, and is in the unique position of being able to produce and test the turbines. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy says South Carolina has the second largest offshore resource on the East Coast, the capacity to power 7.8 million homes.
But one reason the South has been slower to move on this than Northern states is the price of power itself in South Carolina; it’s cheaper now overall.
State Senator Paul Campbell, (R-Berkeley) supports renewable energy being a part of South Carolina’s energy mix.
“We’ve got to continue to push the nuke side, we’ve got to continue to keep the existing coal plants running, but at the same time we need to go for the renewables and the alternative energy sources and I think wind is the most promising of that. You’ve got biomass, solar and wind. We’ve got all of those in South Carolina, we can take advantage of that, but I think wind is where we can get the biggest bang for the buck out of it,” Campbell told media on Thursday.
He says the state has no real energy plan, yet says the “window on wind power is open now”:
“My calculations say we need a 30 percent energy improvement in generation by 2030. Base that on roughly about a 1.3 percent growth rate in energy, ” says Campbell, a former Alcoa executive. ”Everybody will say right now with the economy in a recession, we have more energy than we need. But that’s only on a temporary basis. You’ve got electric cars coming, you’ve got all the peripheral needs, you’ve got population growth. So if you just take a 1.3 percent growth rate on energy, you get 30 percent in the next 20 years or so.”
A federal energy tax credit to develop new power sources expires this year. The U.S. Senate Finance Committee has approved its extension, but the measure still sits in Congress,
States on the Northeast coast of the U.S. are leading other states in developing wind power– mainly because the states made it law to include renewable sources in their power mix. South Carolina does not have such measures.
Campbell says he will lobby the legislature for more incentives. The state lost out on a federal SEAWIND grant opportunity when all regional utilities did not join the effort. Steve Moore of the SC Wildlife Federation says the effort, led by Santee Cooper, did pave the way for future collaborations of South Carolina power companies.
The greatest potential for wind generated power is in the Grand Strand. Campbell says those citizens who are affected want wind energy.
“We had our public comment period, there were 1oo percent people in favor of– in the Georgetown area, North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach–there was 100 percent support for what we are trying to do. So I think that’s important,” Campbell says. “We’ve got all the elements here; we’ve just got to create a sense of urgency.”
There are wind turbine manufacturing facilities at General Electric in Greenville and a global drive train testing lab under construction at Clemson’s Restoration Institute in Charleston.
The institute will be testing turbines for use all over the world. Campbell and wind energy proponents say the state needs to tap into that technology.
It would take three to five years to begin wind farms. The state must also deal with a cumbersome federal regulation process, shipping lanes, fishing industry needs, spoil dredging dispersal areas, undersea fiber optic network locations, and sensitive wildlife areas.