MOREHEAD CITY — Torch Renewable Energy LLC, the Houston-based alternative energy giant, announced Friday it will abandon plans to develop a hybrid wind and solar facility near Mill Pond outside Newport.

“In light of the unlikely prospect of acquiring a variance from the county’s current tall structures ordinance, we have decided not to move forward with the project,” Torch Energy’s vice president of development Rocky Ray said in a prepared release.

The project – which proposed 40 turbines and an array of solar panels in an area in Newport’s extraterritorial jurisdiction – has caused public outcry over the safety, efficiency, economic and military impacts the facility could have on the area.

County commissioners held a public hearing Jan. 2 at the Crystal Coast Civic Center, enacting a moratorium on permitting for wind turbine structures and stalling the proposal in an effort to further investigate repercussions of wind facilities.

“All I can say is that the current ordinance in place had to have factored into their decision,” said Chairman Jonathan Robinson of the announcement. “I’m sure that and the climate and the controversy that surrounded this proposal led to their decision (to terminate).”

Mr. Robinson said he felt the board acted in due diligence imposing the moratorium and would continue to look at the ordinance, despite the project retraction from Torch.

The variances necessary for the project, cited by Torch in the release, are likely alterations to the ordinance’s 3,300-foot setback requirement, said County Manager Russell Overman.

The proposed project would require smaller setbacks to the perimeter to facilitate placement of all 40 of the structures, according to information gleaned by county officials. Mr. Overman said the county was given notice of the dropped proposal Friday afternoon.

Torch Renewable, though in communication with county officials, never submitted an application for permitting of any kind in Carteret County regarding the turbines.

An application is on file with the N.C. Utilities Commission.

Several prominent locals have spoken out against the proposal, including Commissioner Robin Comer and Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret.

Additionally, Congressman Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., announced Friday ongoing concerns on the impact turbines would have on National Weather Service radars in the area.

Torch said earlier this month the company was already in mitigation with officials out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point to remedy possible turbine interference with airspace.

“The state of North Carolina and the Department of the Navy have very rigorous processes in place to ensure that no wind farm in any way jeopardizes military activities,” Mr. Ray said in the release. “We were looking forward to working through those processes to bring renewable energy to the region.”

Mr. Robinson said the board will fine-tune the ordinance and would be open to other alternative energy proposals, given they do not interfere with Cherry Point.

“Our first duty is to safeguard the public and the health of the citizenry. We’re married to Cherry Point here, so the height of the turbines was a main concern for us,” he said.

Torch proposed structures 492 feet high to generate wind power.

Supporters of the clean energy project told the board earlier this month that such projects could bring industry and new possibilities to the Crystal Coast.

“It saddens me that wind power was rejected by the local population without getting to go through the process for permitting,” said Penny Hooper of N.C. Interfaith Power and Light. “The people didn’t give wind energy, alternative energy, a fair chance.”

Ms. Hooper said residents led an anti-wind campaign that hurt the county’s chances at other alternative providers choosing the area for a site.

“The locals stopped a process from going forward on the basis of half-truth, led by one man, John Droz, and the people who were supposed to research and vet (wind) never got the chance.”

Mr. Droz, a local physicist, held a number of anti-wind forums on the project, both this year and in 2008 when the tall structures ordinance was being created.

“It’s very sad that one person has such an inordinate amount of influence on this county’s decision for power sources,” Ms. Hooper said.

Mr. Droz named the dropped project a victory Friday night in an email newsletter to locals.

“This is a community victory,” he said.

North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard calls for 12.5 percent of the state’s energy to be provided by alternative means by 2021.

Torch could not be reached for further comment by presstime.

Contact Jackie Starkey at 726-7081, ext. 232; email; or follow on Twitter @jackieccnt.

(15) comments

Carolina Gal

What is sad is the fact that Mrs. Hooper was the only county resident interviewed for this article, other than Commisioner Robininson. What makes her an authority on wind energy? I just love how she thinks every resident against this was brainwashed by Mr. Droz. Like we needed anyone to tell us what we already knew.

Capt Grumpy

Wind won't work!

Let's build a coal terminal at the port!!!

Then we can dig a hole in the sand and stick our heads into it!


Wind power is a good long as it is located somewhere else. Gas and fuel oil are cheap....sounds like a plan to me. But the plan is concocted with a dash or two of ignorance.


You're right -- wind won't work. Start digging.

country boy

What are these "half truths" that Mrs. Penny refers to? When you try something most people start out small and experiment and if you like it then proceed. Mrs. Hooper and other supporters want to experiment with 40 five hundred foot tall turbines. Just doesn't make sense to try something of this magnitude that you will be stuck with for possibly 20 years. To big of a gamble. I am not anti-wind but there is a place for everything and I don't feel Carteret county is the place.. Mrs. Penny makes it sound as if anyone against this project is under the spell of Mr. Droz like sheep, thats not the case .Everything I have read that he has published makes sense, but better than that it makes common sense. Glad this project is stopped for now!!!!!


What country were the proposed wind mills manfactured and shipped from?


Congratulations to our Commissioners for enacting an ordinance that prohibited wind mill farms. I guess all those who got carried away protesting now look very foolish. The next thing you know they will be claiming credit. Commissioners keep up the good work and do not be drawn in by the hot heads.

Down Eastner

It worked.

Good job planning board.


Glad that is over, we can get back to the true Carteret county economics. Instead of a wind farm, they can put in a trailer park, a Dollar General and a couple of meth labs.

country boy

Its never foolish when your effort succeeds.


Bemused by all the outrage over the outcome of this topic... where was this outpouring of support for the wind farm even a few weeks ago? Though I disagree with her, at least Mrs. Hooper possessed the conviction to represent her beliefs at public meetings, despite being in the minority.

A few of the Monday morning quarterbacks in this thread could have given Peyton a pointer or two last night.

Get a grip, sheeple - if you resign yourselves to let other people make decisions for you, that is what is going to happen. Don't be fussed that those who refuse to accept that reality fought for the outcome they saw accomplished.


sulphur pellet mfg and shipping at our port?(big industry testing our waters) LNG storage and shipping from Radio Isl.?(big industry testing our waters) The shippment and hazmat scare of that possible plosion of 2 chemicals mixing from a fork truck prod and everyone had to evac eastard mhd?(big industry testing our waters) Amtrack coming to downtown Mhd?(big industry checking on acceptance) A super bypass highway bridge interchange to link 70 to downeast? (really 101) A huge wind mill setup company wants 50 wind mills on the mill creek road (big industry testing our waters) Dredging Beaufort inlet again to a deeper 50something feet!!!!(big government doing what they want and will put the sand where they see fit) Its big industry, the federal government and the well off, the rich doing what they want not the county government! They the county government have let us down in a big fashion and no credit is due their way.

Just Thinking

Awesome job to all invovled. i promise you wind is not the saving grace to carbon fuels. Wind energy is not the future but will probably die i the future sooner than later. it just does not have any reliability. i do think there will be a great alternative sooner than later, wind aint it.


AD homonym attacks from Penny Hooper of N.C. Interfaith Power and Light about certain individuals and those others interested in doing what is right for Carteret county is unfortunate. One would hope better of an organization that claims to be "religious."

If you want half truths, you can examine their web site and the number of faith-based groups that have been duped by her organization into "Feel Good" projects for their OWN facilities that will NEVER pay for themselves in energy savings. Using curious and questionable financial schemes of creating dummy companies to secure other people's money and tax credits to fund solar projects for their religious buildings when those same funds could be used in mission to truely serve others. Let's see, my church says, " Let us do something for OURSELVES that is fruitless, raises the cost of electricity to those poor in our community, but makes us Feel Good, or we could buy a herd of cattle and farming equipment for a third world community."

Penny Hooper's organization claiming to be faith-based, tells us that it is important that more and more government involvement is essential in regulating our lives and that faith-based organizations are only a political tool to get more and more governmental control.

The radical environmentalists years ago decided that they were not being successful enough in just their vision of a godless secular world, so they aggressively began campaigns to create the same lie of misleading and bringing in well-meaning religious organizations into the "Green Dragon" of the radical environmentalist movement, which ultimately came out of the radical socialist anti-American movement of the 1960's.

It is true that a lot of good and well-meaning folks have been brought into the lies and misrepresentations of the radical environmentalists who want more government control. Those lies on one hand sound dire and on another sound like "doing the right thing." Many of the unintended consequences have done dramatic damage to those in poverty and subsistence living conditions. Millions have died as a direct result of those radical environmentalists encouraged policies. But as most well-trained socialists have as their mantra, they accuse any potential opposition as being racist and "greedy" as the REAL reason that people are disadvantaged and dying, and not because of failed governmental policies. They create division rather than attempt to build the true unity desired in faith based culture.

There are faith based organizations that view the issues more realistically and beneficially for our future on this earth. Environmental Conservation.
Theologians, scientists, economists, pastors, and others promoting Biblical earth stewardship, economic development for the poor, and the gospel of Christ.


...wind and solar subsidies have increased Europe’s energy costs
by 17% for consumers and
21% for industry in the last four years. -

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