When I saw Dr. Gayes putting those anemometers out there on buoys, I knew what that meant for the future. I knew what that would mean for our community.”
As Chairman for the North Strand Coastal Wind Team, Mr. Baldwin has worked diligently to prepare the local community for offshore wind energy in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for nearly a decade. With a team comprised of South Carolina officials, scientists, and community leaders, the North Strand Coastal Wind Team has worked towards educating and acclimating the community to the concept of wind energy since 2006.1
Reflecting intently on his past works with the North Strand Coastal Wind Team, Mr. Baldwin gazes swiftly across the room with eyes that are not quite seeing the office around him. Rather, he sees the distant past and remembers the long, windy days spent atop hotel rooftops where he installed instruments to collect vertical wind speeds.2
“We spent years talking about wind energy to the point that our community is basically saying, 'Alright let's stop talking about it and let's just go ahead and do it. We have already said yes. We are ready to put it out there.’ And when you go to the meetings you will notice to the north of us, people think that it is going to harm them, seeing those turbines. And to the south of us, people think it's going to ruin their lives seeing turbines. But we have done our homework.”
It is clear that Monroe Baldwin has a strong, subtle passion for bringing this renewable energy source to the South Carolina coast. The open conversation that has occurred over the last 10 years has led to a city that does not shy away from new renewable energy sources. Instead, the community embraces the concept wholeheartedly. “I think the people of NMB view wind energy as the symbol for a city that is forward thinking and thinking about the future and taking a leadership role,” says Baldwin.
One of the major reasons for supporting the wind project is the economic boost it will bring, not just to the local economy, but to the state as a whole. Baldwin notes that the offshore wind energy “will be a tremendous branding opportunity for our economy and our tourist industry."3 A study completed by Clemson University shows that the planned 1,000-megawatt offshore wind farm would generate at least 3,800 jobs annually through the 10-year construction period, with nearly $2 billion in wages and nearly $620 million in government revenue.
Unlike North Myrtle Beach, other regions of the state do not view offshore wind energy as positively. To the south, in Pawleys Island,4 community leaders view the wind turbines as detrimental. “They feel that it is going to affect tourism and it will affect the economy....I think that not thinking about the other benefits such as an economic opportunity, renewable energy, clean energy and having a leadership role in the state is a missed opportunity,” says Mr. Baldwin. In North Myrtle Beach, they believe the opposite is true; the wind project will bring in tourists to the progressive city. Baldwin firmly believes that North Myrtle Beach will act as a “demonstration city,” not only for the south but for the nation as a whole. His ultimate goal of the project is to inspire others to view wind energy as a “viable source of energy for other areas and the rest of the south.”
Monroe Baldwin has been working to introduce wind energy to North Myrtle Beach since 2006. Wind energy is a historical energy source but technology has brought this old form of energy production to modern times.
The wind speed data Monroe Baldwin helped collect shows the best area to place wind turbines. Wind turbines are able to generate more electricity in strong wind velocities.
By comparing other communities profit from wind energy, the USA is able to model those economies.
Pawleys Island has pushed the location of wind turbines further offshore to make the view-shed free of "visually unappealing" wind turbines which is documented in their Wind Turbine Ordinance.
Nuclear Power in South Carolina- While Monroe is working to harness the abundance off offshore wind and convert it into energy for citizens, South Carolina utilities are continuing to invest in nuclear energy; a nonrenewable energy source with many risks.