Establishing a Wind Powered Economic Zone: North Myrtle Beach Reaches for Offshore Wind

Chris Carnevale | November 26, 2012 | Energy Policy, Wind
North Myrtle Beach City LogoOn November 19, the City of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina officially became a “wind-powered economic zone” by proclamation of a City Council resolution.  This resolution represents true leadership in the realm of clean energy and a genuine effort to better the community through economic development, community pride, and environmental protection.

By becoming a wind powered economic zone, North Myrtle Beach hopes to be able to provide the equivalent of 100% of its power usage from a nearby offshore wind farm in the not-too-distant future.  A couple implications herein deserve recognition.

Firstly, by inviting the development of a nearby offshore wind farm, the city is opening the door to local economic development and job creation since a nearby wind farm would need a local workforce to install, operate, and maintain the wind farm.  Secondly, by powering the city with renewable energy, businesses that have adopted renewable energy goals — such as South Carolina industry leaders like Boeing and BMW — can locate operations within the city and meet their energy goals automatically.  Businesses located within this wind powered economic zone can also market themselves as wind powered, which gives them an edge with environmentally conscious consumers and with businesses with green procurement standards. In fact, North Myrtle Beach has annexed a considerable swath of land ready to welcome businesses and developers. Furthermore, the stretch of Intracoastal Waterway between the Little River inlet and the city would be perfect for housing the fleet of operations and maintenance vessels that will regularly visit the wind farm.

North Myrtle Beach Wind Turbine
Who says wind energy and tourism don't mix? Here is one of the three city-owned wind turbines operating in North Myrtle Beach.

The resolution also declared the formation of a stock company to invest in a transmission cable that will help bring the power onshore from an offshore wind farm. The North Strand Coastal Wind Team, the big player in helping the City advance toward wind energy, will be the main player in getting the stock company up and running.  The stock company will serve as a mechanism to fund the installation of the transmission line and also to help city residents profit from the operation of the wind farm. The stock company will seek investment from financial institutions, the City of North Myrtle Beach, and North Myrtle Beach residents.  Once investment is secured, the transmission cable could be laid while the City undertakes its next storm water drainage project so that extra installation expenses are kept to a minimum.

Pre-planning the installation of this cable shows great forward thinking.  It will serve as a big incentive for a wind farm developer to locate the wind farm off the coast from North Myrtle Beach and create local jobs.  Having all the pieces in place for the cable installation will eliminate one more complication for wind farm developers so that they can bring the farm online and start generating wind energy and revenue faster.  Also, since the transmission line will be community-owned, the citizens of North Myrtle Beach will have a vested interest in seeing the wind farm brought online.  In this way, the community has buy-in for a future wind farm through the jobs created as well as compensation for the wind farm’s operation.  When you add in the fact that North and South Carolina have some of the best offshore wind resources in the country, its a no-brainer that this area will become very attractive for future offshore wind development.

We applaud the City of North Myrtle Beach and look forward to what will come next for the community.

The North Strand Coastal Wind Team should also be recognized for the great amount of work they have put into advancing the opportunity of wind energy in North Myrtle Beach.  The passage of this resolution was an important step following four years of work from the Wind Team.  The Wind Team is a grassroots coalition of organizations, businesses, and individuals in and around North Myrtle Beach implementing education and advocacy efforts to promote wind energy development.  The team has representation from Clemson University, Coastal Carolina University, Grand Strand SCORE, Jim Caudle Reef Foundation, Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation, North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce, North Myrtle Beach Sea Turtle Patrol, Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College. Santee Cooper, Savannah River National Laboratory, South Carolina Energy Office, South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, and the City of North Myrtle Beach.

Over the past four years, the Wind Team has taken great strides in getting the North Strand area ready for wind energy, which is poised as one of the biggest and best business opportunities available for the coastal Southeast.  The Wind Team has worked hand-in-hand with researchers, local governments, and community members to ensure that wind energy development is done responsibly and economically.  Among their accomplishments over the past four years, the Wind Team has done a fantastic job of coalition building and encouraging community support of offshore wind, assisted with and hosted meteorological studies to determine local wind resources, passed a municipal ordinance allowing for small wind turbine installations, supported and overseen the installation of three city-owned wind turbines, which serve as a demonstration and education opportunity for residents to grow accustomed to the turbines and grow to love them before bigger ones go out to sea, and just last week helped pass the municipal resolution declaring the City of North Myrtle Beach to be a “Wind Powered Economic Zone.”

It is with pride that we announce that Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is joining the North Strand Coastal Wind Team and look forward to helping advance this great effort to harness some of the greatest, clean energy resources in the country.

North Strand Coastal Wind Team North Myrtle Beach Offshore Wind Farm Business Diagram
Here is a diagram from the North Strand Coastal Wind Team showing how various businesses in the North Myrtle Beach area would flow together to install and maintain a wind farm of approximately 334 megawatts.
Chris Carnevale
Chris is SACE’s Climate Advocacy Director. Chris joined the SACE staff in 2011 to help with building public understanding and engagement around clean energy solutions to the climate crisis. Chris…
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