NORTH MYRTLE BEACH (WMBF) - In a unanimous vote Monday night, the North Myrtle Beach Council changed zoning laws to allow the use of small wind turbines to be installed along the coast.
"It went from being a pipe dream to becoming a reality," said Councilman Greg Duckworth, who is also on the North Strand Coastal Wind Team.
Duckworth says that reality means wind technology companies could soon set up shop in North Myrtle Beach because it will be one of the few cities on the coast with wind turbines.
"The wind is here, so people need to come here to use the wind energy," Duckworth explained. "To be able to bring jobs here is what it's all about."
However, for Avista Resort GM Jim Eggen, it's not just about the jobs. It's about the energy.
"Our monthly bill for the Avista Resort, just one of our properties, is over $30,000 a month," said Eggen, who has been monitoring wind speeds from the roof of his hotel to see how turbines can lower electricity costs. "If we reduce $30,000 a month, that would significantly lower down our costs. We could give a better deal to our guests coming in, and pick up more market share."
Coupled with the potential for new, high-paying technology jobs, council members say it's win-win for wind technology in the North Strand.
One concern is the cost of the turbines. Council members say they cost anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000, some of which could be offset by federal tax rebates.