Local Tech Wire

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) and UNC-Chapel Hapel are dropping plans for a wind turbine project in Pamlico Sound that would have included three turbines.

A small-scale project is “no longer economically viable,” Duke said in a statement Thursday.

The energy company and the university will shift their focus to a large-scale offshore project.

"As the team tackled this first-of-its-kind project, we realized that encouraging large-scale development of offshore wind resources is a better approach than enabling small demonstration projects that lack economies of scale," said Paul Newton, senior vice president of strategy for Duke Energy’s franchised businesses, in a statement. "The cost of the project simply exceeds the benefits our customers would receive if we were to continue."

Duke and UNC-CH announced the Pamlico project last September. ()

Duke said developing, permitting and installing the first turbine would cost $99 million with costs dropping to $14 million for a second. The company also said concerns included “modified” shallow water construction techniques for the turbines as well as “greater than expected potential of disturbing underwater vegetation.”

"The work completed on this project was successful in showing that North Carolina is well positioned to develop offshore wind generation, and we encourage state lawmakers to consider legislation to enable affordable large-scale wind generation off the coast," Newton said.

Duke will complete funding of a $405,000 UNC-CH study related to the project.

"My colleagues and I are grateful to be able to continue important research that will advance our knowledge of birds along the coast and refine offshore wind resource assessments, where we agree there is great potential for wind energy development," said Harvey Seim, professor of marine sciences at UNC-CH. "Duke Energy’s commitment to the ocean-side studies, together with funding from other partners, will enable us to identify and assess the areas with the highest potential for successful wind power generation."

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