Offshore wind in Georgetown has the potential to have a large economic impact in Georgetown County and on a statewide level. Wind energy has been extremely successful in Europe, and the technology is improving daily to bring down the cost. This being the case, South Carolina has two options: We can be a leader of wind energy, or we can sit back and wait for other states to embrace it and follow in their footsteps once the cost has been reduced. By being a leader, South Carolina would not fall in the "last" column of yet another category, and it would put the state in a position to increase job generation. Clemson is building a state-of-the-art wind turbine testing facility in Charleston.
If the Grand Strand would be more proactive about wind energy, South Carolina would be in a fantastic position to recruit companies like General Electric, which already has a plant in Greenville for land-based turbines. If we got a major manufacturer, their suppliers would follow suit. Clemson estimates the job potential at 20,000 new jobs. Offshore wind turbines are currently only manufactured in Europe, and whoever proves to be a leader in offshore wind on the East Coast will attract manufacturers, suppliers and supporting services. The increased cost of wind would be offset by economic development.
Two states have already begun the permitting process for offshore wind and are conducting the necessary research. Thanks to Coastal Carolina and Clemson universities, South Carolina has completed the majority of the research that needs to be done to demonstrate the existence of offshore wind. The state knows where to locate the turbines and is on track to determine the number needed to efficiently produce electricity. Money and political will is what is holding South Carolina back, but that can be changed with your help. Let's be first in the nation with offshore wind and let's be first to reap the economic benefits. It's time for South Carolina to be No. 1.
The writer lives in Murrells Inlet.
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