Local support flies in the face of Republican opposition, and some long-resistant states like North Carolina are now poised to join the country's wind power surge.
On a breezy day in late January, Katharine Kollins, the president of the Southeastern Wind Coalition, walked 13 North Carolina legislators across fields of farmland outside Elizabeth City, N.C. The tour's goal was to show just what 104 wind turbines looked like, how beautifully they can flow into an agricultural landscape.
Kollins brought the legislators, all Republicans and many of whom had spent years trying to block the project, to the first major wind farm in the Southeast that began operating late last year. Several weeks earlier, a group of the lawmakers had written to President Donald Trump's transition team, asking them to shut down the Amazon Wind Farm U.S. East, which is owned by Avangrid Renewables and provides power to Amazon Web Service's data centers. The legislators called it an "unacceptable threat to our national security" that ruined the landscape. It's unclear what Trump could do to remove the turbines and it would be an unpopular move: Local communities, businesses and even the military support the project.
"Once you see, hear and feel these machines, and are able to get a sense of how well they integrate into an agricultural landscape, it is hard to have too much negative to say," Kollins said.
In the case of these legislators, she turned out to be right. After the tour, House Speaker Tim Moore released a statement saying the wind farm "takes advantage of a valuable natural resource our state has to offer."
Read more at America's Wind Energy Boom May Finally Be Coming to the Southeast