Our View: Sea winds can turn turbines

Feb. 07, 2013 @ 02:10 AM

It probably surprised some folks a couple of weeks ago when news reports revealed Republican N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory and Democratic President Barack Obama are somewhat like-minded when it comes to developing wind energy farms off North Carolina’s seashore.
While many in McCrory’s GOP see wind energy development as impractical and a wasteful use of the taxpayer money that has been spent on it in some areas, McCrory sees potential — and commercial interest — for development of wind farms off North Carolina’s coast.
The governor says he likes wind energy as part of an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy development (as does President Obama). In a letter to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management last month, McCrory said, “Development of commercial wind farms off the North Carolina coast could stimulate factory development in the state to provide the necessary equipment and bring jobs in that sector.”
McCrory sees wind energy development off the Tarheel coast — and we agree with him — as having job-creation potential. He said up to 3,000 people already are working here in jobs related to wind energy, and he estimates a potential of 10,000. We do encourage McCrory and any supporter of wind farms to stress private enterprise involvement as the leader in this type of energy development. We don’t want to see huge federal and/or state appropriations made to prop up the industry.
The governor also sees the potential for jobs creation through offshore drilling for natural gas and oil. We’ve commented favorably about that, too, in the past and like the idea of the state receiving potentially as much as $400 million a year in royalties from offshore drilling.
Of course, offshore wind farms and oil and gas drilling have the downside potential for environmental and economic damages if something were to go wrong. The fear among some is that North Carolina’s huge tourism industry could be hurt if a problem such as the BP oil spill off the Gulf Coast occurred along the North Carolina coast. Certainly, there’s risk, but as technology continues to advance, we have confidence that the likelihood of such disasters will decrease and the industry’s ability to contain and correct any troubles will increase.
And our views here about offshore wind farms and offshore drilling haven’t even considered the U.S. energy independence angle of this matter. But as always, the more federal and state governments can do to stimulate private development of energy resources, the more energy independent we, as a nation, will be.