Eastern North Carolina will be the site for the first large wind farm in the southeast, and it is being built to serve Amazon.com.
"Amazon Wind Farm US East" will supply 208 megawatts of electricity by the end of next year. Iberdrola Renewables, the world’s largest wind developer, is building the $400 million project across 22,000 acres. Located in what’s known locally as "The Desert" – an isolated area of mostly soy, corn and wheat farms- turbines will be sited on over 60 farms. Together, farmers will get $624,000 in year one ($6000 per turbine) and increasing after that – a strong new revenue source.
And Iberdrola instantly became the counties biggest taxpayer at $520,000 a year in local property taxes each. "It’s like a windfall for us. They’re putting no strain on services… and the farmers can still farm," Wayne Harris, director of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County Economic Development Commission, told News & Observer.
Iberdrola knitted the complex project together over several years and is using 492-feet tall turbines to maximize power output in the low-wind area.
"With the construction of the Amazon wind farm that will supply power outside the state, North Carolina is marking a transition from a state that has been almost exclusively an energy importer of coal, natural gas and uranium," says News & Observer.
Combined with other projects that come online next year – Amazon Solar Farm US East (80 MW in Virginia) and Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge – (150 MW in Indiana) – the energy is enough for 122,000 homes each year.
Fowler Ridge is one of the largest wind farms in the US:
"We’re far from being done. We’ll continue pursuing projects that deliver clean energy to the various energy grids that serve AWS data centers, we’ll continue working with our power providers to increase their renewable energy quotient, and we’ll continue to strongly encourage our partners in government to extend the tax incentives that make it more viable for renewable projects to get off the ground," says Jerry Hunter, Vice President of Infrastructure at Amazon Web Services.
These projects add to Amazon’s three "carbon-neutral regions": US West (Oregon); EU (Frankfurt); and AWS GovCloud (US).
Amazon’s data centers run on 25% renewable energy now – the goal is to reach at least 40% by the end of 2016. In November, the company joined Google and Facebook in committing to getting to 100% renewable energy. Facebook, which also runs on 25% renewables, just announced a goal of reaching 50% by the end of 2018.
This trend of Internet companies buying enormous amounts of renewable energy from dedicated solar and wind farms is becoming a major drivers pushing the industry forward. This is especially true in North Carolina, where the right-wing government would otherwise vote to weaken/eliminate any support.
Read our article, Almost 60,000 US Farms Have On-Site Renewable Energy.