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Governor says he backs wind farms off NC coast

Emery p. Dalesio, Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Gov. Pat McCrory is telling the Obama administration he supports plans that could one day see wind turbine towers poking out of the Atlantic Ocean miles off the North Carolina coast.

McCrory expressed his support for wind power in a letter this week to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which is gauging commercial interest in wind farms off North Carolina's northern Outer Banks and Cape Fear. The three ocean blocks that may be leased for wind farms were selected because they're gusty spots that don't interfere with military operations, shipping and fishing.

McCrory previously expressed his support for underground hydraulic fracturing to unleash natural gas and offshore drilling to tap gas and oil. He said he also backs wind power because he believes in an "all-of-the-above" energy plan.

"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 said in the letter dated Tuesday.

The Republican, who took office earlier this month, cited estimates that North Carolina's offshore winds could stimulate $22 billion in new economic activity and create up to 10,000 jobs. Up to 3,000 North Carolina jobs are already tied to the wind industry as manufacturers produce cables for power transmission, steel plates used in turbine towers and fiberglass for blades, McCrory said.

The offshore North Carolina sites being considered for leases include one area six miles off Kitty Hawk and two others that are seven miles and 13 miles at sea south of Wilmington.

The statement was cheered by the Sierra Club's North Carolina director, Molly Diggins.

"We're really glad that Gov. McCrory recognizes the tremendous potential offshore wind offers for jobs and investment in our coastal communities," she said.


Emery Dalesio can be reached at https://twitter.com/emerydalesio