Local News

Winds of Change Blow on N.C. Coast

Posted May 29, 2007
Updated August 21, 2010

— Two things are certain on North Carolina’s coast – the wind and the waves. Plus if you listen closely, you can hear the whir of the wind at work.

The National Park Service is using a wind turbine to generate electricity for the Coquina Beach bathhouse just south of Nags Head.

“You’re looking at 15 to 20 years on the payback. But if you’re planning to be there awhile, the investment makes sense,” said Jeff Brooks, of N.C. GreenPower.

The 2.5-kilowatt wind turbine produces enough power to operate the bathhouse, and any leftover power is released into the local power grid. Officials said the power generated is small, but the implications are tremendous.

“I think the Coquina wind turbine, while small in capacity, is a huge step forward for wind power in North Carolina,” Brooks said.

For beachgoers like Ann Hollowell, the wind can sometimes be a curse. She spent the day hunkered down between two dunes trying to block the windy chill coming off the water, but she knows that constant wind can also be a blessing.

“As an alternative energy source, I think the windmill is a great idea. I think they should line the beach with them if it would do the trick,” she said. “There’s always wind from somewhere, (we should) absolutely take advantage of it.”

At Jockey’s Ridge State Park, the idea is catching on. George Barnes, superintendent of the park, said the idea just makes sense.

“Jockey’s Ridge was formed by the wind," he said. "The winds are never not blowing out here."

Within a year, Barnes hopes to be operating at least one wind turbine to help generate power for the visitors center. He said the center gets 1.2 million visitors a year, and he hopes that project will help spread the word about wind power.

“It’s bound to reach some of them,” he said. “Get people thinking.”

Tourists Ariana Sclarancis and Rick Medina said they would not want to see so many turbines as to obscure the scenery at Coquina Beach, but perhaps the time has come to seriously find new ways to fulfill future power needs.

“It makes sense you would have something like that in this area,” Sclarancis said.

“It makes sense, considering the wind keeps blowing the towel in my face. There’s going to be a lot of wind here,” Medina said.

The Jockey’s Ridge wind turbine is expected to cost around $12,000.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • nosouthernershere May 30, 2007

    Skepticghoul, thaks for your compliments, your lack of education and initiative is over whelming

  • nosouthernershere May 30, 2007

    Qui, I'm here to irritate you

  • nosouthernershere May 30, 2007

    snizzake, did not see you doing any math, just a bunch of dribble, okay

  • nosouthernershere May 30, 2007

    snizzake, never been on I-95 north, I'll have to try it. Since you don't like it, there must be something great to see up there. Remember, sometimes it is a compliment if someone doesn't like you. You have most definayely complimented me with your comments. thank you

  • snizzake May 30, 2007

    nosouthernershere... I-40 WEST... USE IT! if you don't like our state, then get the heck out! Yankee or not, you just don't get it. do you really think a windmill is going to stand up to a hurricane, especially if it is installed 10 miles off shore?? it would cost 5 times as much to put them that far off shore since they would need a massive foundation to keep them stable in 400 feet of water.... oh sorry, did i lose you in my first grade math there?

  • fyiarp May 30, 2007


    Yes, we're all so stupid for guessing you're from up north. Wherever you're from, your a horse's ___. Why are you here anyway, hmmm...

  • snizzake May 30, 2007

    nosouthernershere.... all of us "small thinkers" here in the south cannot wait for you to move on to a progressive part of the world either!! I-95 North, ever heard of it? USE IT!! we don't need any more big-headed arrogant yankees in our "small thinking" state....

  • nosouthernershere May 30, 2007

    I see that I am confronted with the usually NC thinking. Because my name indicates that I am not from the south, the only other alternative is the north. Try again. Not even an educated guess on behalf of all the highly educated people I have encounted in the "great' state of NC. Great to those who have never been anywhere else. As far as the wind farms being an eyesore, here we go again with the education issue in NC. How about putting them 10 miles off shore, that way, they can not be seen. Does everything have to be spelled out in a first grade level for you to understand, or are you just not capable of understanding

  • StraightNifonged May 30, 2007

    As a Mechanical Engineer I can tell ya'll that there's a reason these things aren't everywhere already. They cost WAY to much and look aweful. Trying to sell wind power to clients is like trying to sell lightning rods door to door.

  • Skepticghoul May 30, 2007

    nosouthernershere, you mean all the land on the coast where those condos are - that house all those transplanted "Loing Oilinders?" Gosh, you're smart! They'd love to have a wind farm in the back yard. Gosh, I'm so impressed, I'm phoning Mensa now. They gotta hear about ya.