After years of fits and starts, North Carolina is set to host the state's first large-scale wind farm that will convert the sea breezes blowing through the state's eastern flatlands into enough electricity to power 60,000 homes.
The sprawling 34-square mile Desert Wind project, to be announced at a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday, will start off with 104 turbine spires rising from the cornfields of Perquimans and Pasquotank counties. The $400 million energy project will be built by Spanish wind farm developer Iberdrola Renwables and is expected to start generating electricity in late 2016.
North Carolina is considered to have some of the East Coast's best wind resources, but the state has proven notoriously difficult for developing a commercial wind farm. The Desert Wind project has managed to avoid the conflicts that have sunk proposed wind farms in the past: widespread opposition in tourist areas, interference with military flight paths and the potential for bird kills in seasonal migration routes.