Surveys show WNC residents support wind turbine energy

Published 1:02 pm Friday, July 2, 2010

A majority of residents surveyed in Western North Carolina support responsible wind energy development in the mountains, according to researchers at Appalachian State University.

Dennis Scanlin, a professor at Appalachian State University and coordinator of the universitys Appropriate Technology Program, says two surveys conducted this spring found residents do not support a proposed 100-foot height restriction that would effectively ban commercial wind turbines in the region. Most commercial turbines are at least 200 feet.

The most recent poll of 629 Western North Carolina residents found 61 percent think the height limit is overly restrictive.

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Last year the N.C. Senate approved a bill that includes the height limit for new wind turbines in the mountains. Legislators from the mountain districts cited concerns about the impact of turbines on mountain views, tourism and real estate. The bill has not been approved yet by the N.C. House.

Boone was previously home to the largest wind turbine in the world. The turbine, built by the federal government in 1978, rose 130 feet on a mountain near Appalachian State University. The turbine stood there only about five years before residents complained that it made a vibrating noise and interrupted television signals. The turbine was taken down and the area was transformed into a park.

Marcus Taylor, a research assistant at Appalachian State University’s Wind Application Center, says wind power from the mountains would not meet the regions energy needs, but he believes it is a good start. However, opponents of wind turbines in the mountains, say the turbines could impact jobs in the region because the region relies heavily tourism and real estate development.


The Blue Ridge Parkway is completely open and ready for the July 4th holiday weekend and the busiest period of the tourist season from July to October. Winter storms left trees and rock slides covering stretches of the road, but its now open again after four months of cleanup.

A six-mile stretch (mile markers 399 to 405) near Asheville that has been closed since October will be reopened Friday. The slope around mile marker 400 has been secured with bolts, while crews continue to remove fallen trees and limbs in some areas.


Travel in the Carolinas is expected to increase by about 12 percent this Fourth of July compared to last year, according to AAA Carolinas.

AAA says the increase is due to an improved economy and pent-up demand for vacations. AAA estimates about 930,000 North Carolinians and 450,000 South Carolinians will travel 50 mile or more this weekend. Most are expected to travel by car.

AAA president and CEO David Parsons says gas prices this holiday weekend are similar to last year, but people have a more favorable outlook for the economy.


Charlotte is one of four cities named a finalist to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention. The Democratic National Committee announced that Charlotte is a finalist along with Minneapolis, St. Louis and Cleveland. The party will choose a date for the convention before the end of the year.


An electric car maker from South Korea was expected to announce Thursday its plans to build a manufacturing plant in Spartanburg County that will employ about 370 people. CT&T Korea Ltd. says it plans to move quickly to get production started at the new facility. The company has been manufacturing vehicles in Korea and selling them through dealerships scattered across the country. The Spartanburg County assembly operation would build the companys e Zone and c Zone vehicles. CT&T says it may also create in the Upstate its North American headquarters and research and development center.

The car maker is the latest company to join the automotive manufacturing cluster in the Upstate that is anchored by BMW and fostered by the International Center for Automotive Research.


An apple grower in Henderson County is moving forward with a $1 million facility that will more than double the time that apples can be stored in the county. Richard Staton says he is constructing the state-of-the-art facility to retain the business of one of the countys largest customers, Gerber Products Co. Staton says the area is at risk of losing the companys business without the facility, which can cool apples to 45 degrees and create an atmosphere of two percent oxygen. Nitrogen is added to the storage facility as oxygen is removed. The storage facility can store apples for up to a year, compared to other coolers now in the area that store up to five months.

Staton says he plans to have the new building operational by September, in time for the fall harvest season.


Erin Brockovich, a well known environmental activist, is joining the battle to prevent Alcoa Inc. from renewing its license to operate dams on the Yadkin River.

The dams were built for an Alcoa aluminum smelter, but the plant has closed, and Alcoa now uses the dams to sell electricity. Alcoa is seeking a new license to operate the dams for up to 50 years.

Brockovich planned to speak at a few events this week in North Carolina to state her opposition to a new license. N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue also has said she does not support a new license, and state lawmakers have proposed the creation of a public body to hold the dam licenses instead of Alcoa.


Residential rents are on the rise in the South Carolina Upstate, according to Real Data, a Charlotte research company. The company reports that rents increased 4.6 percent recently, pushing the occupancy rate to 91.3 percent. The rate had been at 88 percent at the end of last year.

Real Data cited a lack of new apartment construction as one cause for the increase. The company said in May 2009 construction was started on 548 new apartments units in the Upstate, but there have been no new starts in the area since then.


Smokers in South Carolina now have to pay 50 cents more per pack in the state after the states cigarette tax increase went into effect on Thursday. South Carolina, which previously had a cigarette tax of just seven cents, no longer has the lowest tax in the nation. The 50-cent increase, expected to generate more than $125 million a year, will be placed in a health care trust fund to help cover a Medicaid budget shortfall expected in 2012. Some funding also will be used for cancer research and smoking cessation efforts.