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WILMINGTON, NC — With it looking likely that North Carolina will not get “Project Soccer” a major question for the state remains how do we produce more jobs? The answer to that question could be blowing in the wind. A public forum on offshore wind energy was held Wednesday night at UNCW.

Panelists from the forum say that developing wind energy off our coast that matches the output of a nuclear plant would create about 10,000 construction and manufacturing jobs and about 2,000 permanent operations jobs.

That is one of the reasons that states up and down the east coast are competing to attract the industry.

“States like New Jersey, Massachusetts, Delaware, all of these states are kind of out there saying we want to be the center of the world for offshore wind and frankly a lot of those states don’t have then natural advantages that North Carolina has,” said Brian O’Hara, President of the N.C. Offshore Wind Coalition.

Experts say that the state has the largest wind resource on the east coast to go along with the lowest construction costs.

“I think North Carolina is taking a lot of the right steps to do the right studies,” said Rob Propes, Development Manager of APEX Wind Energy. “They’re really taking a close and careful look at it.”

The crowd at UNCW’s Warwick Center went out the door to hear these experts talk about the technology and to ask questions about it.

Some of the issues with the turbines are that they could be an eyesore to our coast, what would be the effects of a hurricane on them, and their expensive costs.

“It’s going to be more expensive than that old technology but it’s certainly going to be more competitive with a brand new energy facility that will have to be built,” said Propes.

They also have a number of environmental advantages. They emit no harmful pollution, their foundations become artificial reefs and they require no water usage.

This domestic, clean energy is part of a long term effort that North Carolina is looking at.

“I think the chances are good if we get our house in order and can approach this very proactively,” said O’Hara.

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