Lead in alternative energy
Saturday, January 28, 2017
There they go again. North Carolina legislative leaders have stepped up their jihad against alternative energy once more, this time taking aim at a wind farm on the North Carolina coast that will power Amazon “cloud” storage facilities.
In a letter to the Trump administration’s incoming Homeland Security secretary, the leaders of the N.C. House and Senate, along with other key Republican lawmakers, ask the feds to shut down Amazon’s wind farm in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties. They say it will interfere with a military over-the-horizon radar system nearby.
Only one problem: The Navy says it doesn’t have any problem with the wind farm, that it won’t interfere with its radar. Further, the contractor building the wind farm, which is near completion, has worked closely with the Navy to prevent problems.
The Navy also is the leading American military force in adopting alternative energy, which it sees as essential in a world where global warming is an increasing geopolitical threat and where unstable nations can easily disrupt the flow of conventional energy supplies.
At least Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore are being consistent. They also were instrumental in killing this state’s successful solar-energy support program, which had helped North Carolina become the No. 2 state in the country in solar development. Solar farms created thousands of new jobs and brought revenue to failing farms fighting the decline in tobacco and cotton. But now the industry is moving into neighboring states, which acted quickly to attract the solar industry with incentives of their own.
Instead, our lawmakers tried mightily to open this state to the petroleum industry, hoping our comparatively minuscule reserves of shale gas would attract “fracking.” So far, no interest.
This does show us how shortsighted our legislative leadership is. For a host of reasons, our energy future is in the sky, not under the ground. The coal industry is dying fast. Many energy companies acknowledge that natural gas is only a bridge to the wind and solar era.
Developing solar and wind resources — and the next generation of super batteries to store their power — is our future. We wish North Carolina’s elected leaders could understand that and give up on their dogged attempts to send us back to the 20th century.
The world is changing, and for a while, we were helping lead it. We’d like to get back to that position.
The Fayetteville Observer
OK, we’ll get to the punchline in a minute.
But here’s the story: The N.C. Turnpike Authority must be a pretty creative group, because out of 60 applications for a special project with the U.S. Department of Transportation, it was chosen.
The project: To have the N.C. 540 Triangle Expressway toll road be one of 10 testing sites around the country for driverless car technology. The road, which connects the Research Triangle Park with Cary, Apex and Holly Springs, will be ready for testing as of January of next year. Still to be determined is whether roads will be closed or if the driverless cars will tour along in traffic with those that have drivers.
And from the authority executive director comes these encouraging words: “We will not do anything to compromise the safety of our customers or the reliability of their commute.”
Well, OK. It is true, by the way, that no laws exist to govern driverless cars. Understandable for obvious reasons. A driverless car will presumably not change lanes without signaling. A driverless car will not take its eye off the road to grab a spilled coffee out of the floorboard. A driverless car will not daydream or lose attention to changing the radio stations.
Finally, a driverless care will not talk on a cell phone or text while driving.
Hmmmm ... maybe we should clear all the roads for the experiment. Permanently.
The News & Observer of Raleigh