The report entitled “Catching the Wind” argues investment in wind power off the Atlantic coast could generate enough energy to power all of the households in New Jersey and South Carolina. Among those participating in the teleconference call releasing the report was North Charleston mayor Keith Summey, whose community is participating in this energy initiative as the home of Clemson University’s wind turbine testing facility.
“We worked with Clemson University and gave them a large portion of the old naval base property so they do their new wind turbine facility,” he told reporters. “It has been a great asset for us as we are able to work with that are looking to enhance wind turbines, how they can better used.”
The Clemson drivetrain test facilities were dedicated in November 2013.
Environmental advocates, along with politicians from both sides of the aisle, are touting wind energy as a clean and renewable energy source that could create jobs and further boost the economy. Summey said it would also lessen the nation’s dependence on foreign energy sources.
“It cleans our environment for humans and animals alike,” he said. “But it also cuts back or dependence on foreign utility products that we have to bring in to generate electricity for us here in the Lowcountry and the state of South Carolina.”
There are currently no utility-scale wind energy projects in the works off the Atlantic Coast. National Wildlife Federation Senior Manager for Climate and Energy Catherine Bowes said the federal government continues to designate offshore wind leasing areas along the coast and are now scouting areas off the coast of the Carolinas.
“The federal government’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has an intergovernmental taskforce process where those wind energy areas are identified,” she said. “That process is just beginning for South Carolina.”
Wind energy advocates suggest that offshore wind power can protect ratepayers from price spikes in the energy market. Summey said he has set up a personal example.
“I actually built a little duplex and put a little wind turbine on top to help offset utility costs and to make a clean statement for other people as we constantly trying to lead by example.”
Summey said politicians and other civic leaders along the Atlantic Coast must lead a call to action in the development of this untapped energy source.