Wind energy could benefit county
November 16, 2010
— Georgetown County is in a perfect position to gain jobs and an environmental benefit from the wind industry.
This information on how the area could gain jobs and industry from the wind industry was presented during a forum on wind turbines that was held at Howard High School Tuesday night.
The proximity of the county to the coast and the availability of a viable port positions the county to be able to manufacture and ship the wind turbines to different locations.
“Our port is definitely a good fit,” according to economic development officials from Georgetown County.
Paul Gayes, a professor at Coastal Carolina University, told the group at Howard High School that the resources to benefit from the wind industry are already in place.
“The resources are here,” he said. “You have the coast and the port that is already in place. There is the manufacturing element. These turbines are huge, they have to be close to the coast so they can go in the water. The proximity to the coast is a benefit.”
Ecotourism is also a draw, Gayes said.
Many of the existing wind farms in other areas are draws for tourism, since people are interested in seeing them in action.
“People go out and see these things,” he said.
The area is good to receive the power from the turbines because the transmission lines are in better shape than other states. The power grid is fairly new and can accept at least a gigawatt of power generated by the wind turbines.
The message from the panelists was that the state, and Georgetown County, need to jump on the opportunity related to the wind industry.
“We have an opportunity to jump on this,” said Tim Tilley, president and founder of Envirosep. “The Georgetown area could use the economic boost that would come from this effort,” he said.
Tilley said his company manufactures parts that cool the electronic elements in wind turbines.
Al Reid, from PPG Industries, said PPG now manufactures fiberglass that is used as material to make wind turbines.
PPG has manufacturing facilities in North and South Carolina and has already benefitted from the wind industry, Reid said.
There are currently no offshore wind farms in Georgetown and Horry counties.
Some onshore test equipment has been placed at Hobcaw Barony and the fishing pier leading out of the City of Georgetown.
Buoys placed by Santee Cooper are gathering data to determine where the wind turbines could be placed offshore.
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to work with the South Carolina Energy Office to conduct the public forums, including the one in Georgetown, said Toni Reale, Coastal Program Coordinator for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
Another forum was held in North Charleston and another one will be held in North Myrtle Beach on Nov. 30.
“This is the second of many forums that will be held across the state,” Reale said. “Our goal is to bring wind experts to the public to inform them about the opportunities for offshore wind.”
Clemson University recently received a $45 million grant to build a testing facility to test the drive trains of large wind turbines, Reale said.
Reale said she sees a manufacturing cluster forming around South Carolina, related to the wind industry.
This could happen within the next decade,” she said. “It’s already starting. Our ports could serve as the East Coast hub for wind energy manufacturing.”
(taken from gtowntimes.com