- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

LUMBER BRIDGE, N.C. (AP) - A Florida company is building a 196-foot tower in Hoke County to determine whether the area has enough wind to generate electricity.

The Fayetteville Observer reported (https://bit.ly/1poifby ) that NextEra Energy Resources is building the tower near Lumber Bridge. Equipment on the tower will measure wind speeds for up to five years.

The Hoke County Board of Commissioners approved a permit earlier this month that will let the company build the tower near the Robeson County line.

Donald Porter with Raeford-Hoke Economic Development says officials hope the area will have enough wind to make the project work.

Steven Stengel with NextEra said the company is considering the area after analyzing available information about wind speeds from airports and other sources.

John Balfour’s family owns the land where NextEra will build the tower, which will look similar to a cell tower and will be mostly hidden behind trees. Balfour said he doesn’t have a problem with wind energy.

“I don’t see a downside,” he said. Balfour said he will continue to have cotton planted around the tower.

“It’s not going to hamper the use of it, except for a small footprint,” he said. Stengel said no date has been set to start construction.

North Carolina does not have any wind farms now, but several projects are in the works or are being considered.

Jen Banks, director of operations for the Southeastern Coastal Wind Coalition, said about 10 companies have put up towers to measure wind in North Carolina over the past 10 years.

A project called Desert Wind in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties has received state approval and local permits for a wind farm which would include 150 turbines and generate enough power for 55,000 to 70,000 homes, Banks said.

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Information from: The Fayetteville Observer, https://www.fayobserver.com


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