Forum Discusses the Future of Wind Energy - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Forum Discusses the Future of Wind Energy

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North Charleston, S.C. --Could the answer to South Carolina's growing energy need blowing in the wind?

Panelists and members of the public engaged in an open forum on offshore wind resources and economic opportunities Tuesday.

The eight member panel included politicians, scientists and researchers all committed to building large wind farms along the South Carolina coast.

During a question and answer session, panelists said bring wind power to South Carolina's shores would bring not just a new source of cost effective and clean energy but also provide a boost to our state economy.

Wind power is driven by 150 foot turbines placed just off shore.

Several other states including Massachusetts have already begun using the new technology.

"Wind is always there, it's right off shore, and it's close enough to get access to it. So I think it becomes a way to help our energy independence," Ray Anderson, Special Assistant to North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said.

North Charleston plans on being at the forefront of the emerging technology. 

Next week city leaders in partnership with Clemson University will cut the ribbon on a brand new state of the art wind turbine testing facility.

Anderson says over the next decade, the lab could become a major boost to the tri-county economy.

"I think you will see a number of industries coming into the area wanting to be a part of it and how do they develop the next generation of wind turbines," he said.

According to the panelists wind energy technology could one day replace fossil fuels and could eventually lower home heating bills.  

"Once the turbines are spinning out here, the wind is free so utility companies like Santee Cooper or whoever would dispatch that power, once the wind farm is built first on to the grid because it is the lowest cost of power out there," Clemson University Researcher Dr. Nicholas Rigas said.

But with the industry still in the beginning stages, those savings could be years away leaving many to twist in the wind.

While it is a renewable resource wind turbine technology is not without its drawbacks.

Critics say it will destroy the ascetic beauty of the coastline and endanger fish and other marine life.


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