City of North Myrtle Beach explores green energy option - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

City of North Myrtle Beach explores green energy option

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NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The North Myrtle Beach City Council approved a resolution for the development of an off-shore turbine wind farm.

"It created a milestone and significant summit in our project for off shore wind," said Monroe Baldwin.

Baldwin is the chairman of the North Strand Coastal Wind Team, the group behind the project.

Since 2008, the group has been researching the idea of a wind farm in the area, beginning by constructing three turbines in North Myrtle Beach.

Now that the group officially has the council's approval, Baldwin says they can move forward finding investors for the project.

"It allows us to go to the next stages, and that is to engage off-shore wind developers to install off-shore wind farm on our coast," Baldwin said.

Another crucial part of this project, Baldwin says, is installing a cable to connect the city's power supply grid to the wind farm. He says new businesses will be more likely to relocate to North Myrtle Beach or the state if the cable is already in place.

After the cable is in place, the next step will be to build the wind farm.

"Other companies are trying to relocate to states that are providing sources of renewable energy," according to Baldwin.

He says companies like BMW are already exploring ways to use renewable energy.

On windy days, Baldwin says his research suggests the wind farm will produce enough electricity to power the city and leaves the rest to be sold.

"It could also provide twice that much for companies that use internal renewable energy standards."

But it's not a cheap project.

Baldwin says the cable will cost $50-60 million as a rough estimate. The wind farm itself will take $17 million per year to operate. It will cost $4 million dollars to install for each megawatt of electricity the turbines are capable of producing.

In other words, the more electricity the turbines make, the more expensive the project. Baldwin says the wind farm will produce about 334 megawatts of electricity.

Baldwin says they haven't discussed a date to begin construction. The planning process may take years.

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