SC Resolution Recognizes North Myrtle Beach in Wind Efforts

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MYRTLE BEACH — A resolution introduced last week at the S.C. General Assembly would put North Myrtle Beach at the forefront for receiving benefits from any early wind energy development in the waters east of South Carolina.

The resolution, which cites North Myrtle Beach’s inclusion of ducts for wind farm energy transmission cables in new stormwater outfall pipes, does not limit the state’s enthusiasm to North Myrtle Beach. But as the federal government has recently opened two tracts relatively near the city for wind farm proposals, it is likely that the energy produced would be brought ashore either in northeastern South Carolina or southeastern North Carolina.

Marc Jordan, CEO of the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce and a member of the S.C. Task Force for the U.S. Bureau of Energy Management, said that the city’s inclusion in the resolution recognizes the efforts it has made to position itself as a leader in the development of wind energy.

BOEM is the agency that awards contracts for wind farm development.

Besides committing to cable ducts in stormwater pipes, the city has said it wants to be a demonstration city for evaluating the potential of wind energy and has put small, land-based wind turbines in Cherry Grove and along Ocean Drive near Main Street.

Jordan said one of the key benefits of the resolution is that it hopefully will get legislators to begin to think about the wind power potential in South Carolina and to look at how North Myrtle Beach is ready to help the state exploit it.

“It’s one more step in positioning our community as a leader in wind energy,” he said.

North Strand Coastal Wind Team leader Monroe Baldwin said the city also is on record supporting the creation of a public-private partnership to lay a cable to a point 10 miles offshore for the wind farm to connect with.

Additionally, city Councilman Greg Duckworth – also a Wind Team leader – said city officials met with BOEM representatives recently in Washington, D.C., and saw a tentative map for offshore lease tracts that run the length of the S.C. coast. Duckworth noted that BOEM was to have been represented at a North Myrtle Beach wind energy forum recently, but canceled at the last minute because it lost travel funds in the federal sequestration.

Baldwin said he doesn’t have an estimate of how many jobs would be generated if wind energy came ashore in North Myrtle Beach, but he said that the landfall destination likely will also be the site of a marine service industry that would generate an impact of millions of dollars.

Baldwin said he was pleased that the wind resolution, introduced by Sen. Greg Hembree, R-Little River, got 35 more senators to sign on as co-sponsors within 24 hours.

It has been referred to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

Baldwin said he witnessed a solar energy resolution that could only get one sponsor last year.

The difference is that the wind resolution is asking for no financial contribution from the state where the solar resolution was looking for tax credits.

“You’re not really locking yourself into a course of conduct you can’t reverse,” Hembree said of the wind resolution.

Hembree said he doesn’t think it will have a problem getting approval in the Senate and House, but said there may not be enough time left in the current session for it to be considered this year.

Eventually the legislature may be asked to consider incentives to attract wind energy farms and service industries to South Carolina, Jordan said. He said that the case for the incentives could be buttressed by an economic impact study that could be locally funded.

Hembree said that the impact study is going to have to have convincing numbers of a solid return to North Myrtle Beach and South Carolina for the legislature to consider incentives for wind farms.

Baldwin said that North Myrtle Beach also has a leg up over other potential landfall sites because it has a study that shows that 80 percent of the city’s tourists and residents support it.

He said that the landfall issue can be a bigger obstacle to wind farm developers than getting the project built.

“What we have done is we have completed a path of least resistance for offshore wind,” Baldwin said.

Additionally, he said the city’s power grid can handle a significant injection of new power without jeopardizing the needs of the city or its residents.

Besides North Myrtle Beach, the resolution also notes that offshore wind farms attract reef development and are supported by recreational fishermen and divers.

“If it’s going to happen,” Baldwin said, “let’s do it here. We’re ready for it.”