Study offers view of what turbines may look like off our coast


SUNSET BEACH, NC (WWAY) -– The horizon off some beaches may soon change in Brunswick County, all in the name of renewable energy.

Large wind turbines may be coming our way. Some people say they think its cool. Others say they are eyesores.

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The Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has been looking into adding wind turbines off the coast of Brunswick County. But before any decisions are made, planners wanted to consider the visual impact the structures would have, so they did a visual simulation study to show how the turbines will look.

Click here to see pictures and video from the visual simulation study

Some say they like the idea of having the machines off the shore of Sunset Beach.

“I think they are a great idea,” Chris Parillo said. “It’s like not, they’re not obtrusive. They would be like watching sailboats. Anything to save energy and give more power. Wonderful.”

“I don’t think it would be an eyesore or anything,” Charlie McCarthy said. “I thought it looked pretty cool from the pictures, so I think it would be a great idea.”

Others say they think it will ruin the beach’s beauty.

“I don’t like the idea here,” Sunset Beach resident James Grossi said. “I think the water’s too pristine. The place is too pristine to have that, and I do understand how it is going to help everybody, but not here.”

But Alley Warren disagrees.

“I think they would look awesome, my opinion,” Warren said. “It wouldn’t diminish any of the sea’s natural beauty.”

The turbines would be anywhere from 10 to 20 nautical miles out to sea.

Citizens will be able to find out what the development of offshore wind energy might look like from the North Carolina coast at two federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management meetings next week. In addition to being able to view the simulations, the public will also be able to offer comments.

The sessions will be held on: Monday, Aug. 12 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Wingate by Wyndham Southport; 1511 North Howe St. and on Wednesday, Aug. 14 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the South Brunswick Islands Center, 9400 Ocean Highway 17 W.; Carolina Shores.

The NC Energy Office, a division of the NC Department of Commerce and the NC Solar Center at NC State University will attend the meetings and be available to answer questions regarding the process for identifying areas for offshore wind development in the state.

The planning process is designed to identify areas for commercial offshore wind development with the least environment and use conflicts, while also protecting sensitive habitats and resources. In addition, the process seeks to minimize space use conflicts with activities such as military operations, shipping and fishing.

The visual simulation study covers 18 sites along the coast with hypothetical views of a 200 turbine offshore wind project at 10, 15 and 20 nautical miles. A critical piece of this study is the meteorological report, which found that daytime visibility to 10 nautical miles occurs at least 50 percent of the day on 127 days per year, including 25 days during the summer.