A wind farm with up to 45 turbines, planned for Chowan County in northeastern North Carolina, got final approval from state regulators Tuesday.

The wind farm proposal is the first to be approved in North Carolina by the Department of Environmental Quality. State lawmakers passed a law in 2013 allowing for wind farms, but this is the first permit to get final approval.

“This is a big deal,” said Katharine Kollins, head of the Southeast Wind Coalition. She said state regulators had to build a permitting process from scratch and this approval could pave the way for other wind farms in the state.

Timbermill Wind, LLC, has been working to get approval for the project for eight years, Kollins said. The company is part of Apex Clean Energy, which has dozens of wind farms and solar projects around the country. 

“Timbermill Wind represents an enormous economic opportunity for Chowan County and the entire region,” Apex senior development manager Jimmy Merrick said in a statement.

The wind farm in Chowan County could generate up to 189 megawatts, according to Apex.

“The 45-turbine project will generate enough clean energy to power more than 47,000 average North Carolina homes, create over 100 jobs during construction, and become the county's single largest taxpayer - providing about $33 million in new local tax revenue over its lifetime,” he said.

The company will still need to get the building permits for the wind turbines, Merrick said.

“Initial construction of the project may begin as soon as this summer and will progress throughout 2024,” he said.

The project will also bring income for farmers and other landowners in Chowan County who will get annual lease payments for having wind turbines on their land, according to Apex.

“These payments will continue over the projected 30-year lifespan of the wind farm, injecting millions of dollars into Chowan County's economy to support local merchants, contractors, and equipment suppliers,” the company said.

Chowan County is a rural area in northeast North Carolina, sitting along the Chowan River and the mouth of the Albemarle Sound. The wind farm will be north of Edenton.

Power from the project will flow into the PJM Energy Market, according to Kollins. That market serves the northeast corner of North Carolina, up into Virginia and points north.

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