Coal River Mountain in Raleigh County may soon become the center of an energy battle that pits fossil fuels against non-fossil renewable sources.
At issue is this: Should we develop coal resources now if that will destroy wind resources that can be harnessed forever?
North Carolina-based community organizers Appalachian Voices decided to raise this question.
The group contracted national wind development consultants WindLogics to analyze some likely wind resources in southern West Virginia.
The Public Service Commission recently approved the 65-turbine wind farm on the Laurel Mountain Ridge between Randolph and Barbour counties. ..."They have to be maintained and they have to be taken down and money has to be provided for that," said Commissioner Elbon. "You know how we ended up with all the strip mines all over West Virginia. The state had to pay to have those things taken care of. This won't happen with the windmills."
Arthur and Pamela Dodds are upset with the West Virginia Public Service Commission's approval of the wind turbine facility along the Laurel Mountain ridgeline in Barbour and Randolph Counties.
"I was very disappointed that the wind turbine complex had been approved. I feel there was an improper balancing of the information that the opposition gave," says Pamela Dodds, a Barbour County resident.
Wind turbines could continue to sprout along the state's Appalachian ridgetops, as state regulators approved a project on the Randolph/Barbour County border in November. The same company applied in December to build a project in Grant County, while another developer announced plans in January for a project near Keyser.
Industry growth may be slowing, however, as the national economic recession dries up the investment capital needed to build new projects.
It’s called the Allegheny Plateau, a wide span of ridges stretching across west-central Pennsylvania and then south into West Virginia.
The wind patterns and terrain characteristics of the plateau make it the primary reason why Cambria and Somerset counties soon will be home to more than 500 new windmills during the next few years, with predictions of more on the horizon.
That number is in addition to the 34 existing turbines in Somerset County and includes the 90 proposed for the Allegheny Ridge.
Rep. Alan B. Mollohan, D-W.Va., told a House committee Tuesday about the dangers wind turbines in West Virginia and elsewhere pose to birds and bats.
"In the past, West Virginia's natural resources were exploited without regard to the long-term environmental consequences, and I think it's imperative that this not be allowed to happen again," Mollohan told the House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans during Tuesday's hearing, the first congressional hearing on the impact of huge wind turbines on wildlife.
Mollohan also spoke about the size of the wind projects on West Virginia's mountain ridges.
Local governments in western Virginia are beginning to craft land-use regulations to give them tighter control over where wind turbines could be built, even as energy companies study the area's potential for large wind farms.
Mountainous Bland and Bath counties are looking to develop ordinances governing wind turbines. Giles County, meanwhile, recently created a permit process that allows farmers and landowners to build and operate single turbines; but the permit process does not open the door wider for commercial wind farms. The permit process is similar to ones adopted by Pulaski and Rockingham counties. ...The prospect of more money did not persuade Patrick County officials to embrace wind farms. Last year, amid hue and cry from landowners after a Pennsylvania company's proposal to build 20 giant turbines several hundred feet high in Patrick, county supervisors adopted an ordinance banning structures of more than 100 feet high. The company dropped its proposal.
At the heart of Halgren's complaint are a series of safety setbacks discussed by the PSC report, as well as several international organizations. One of those groups is the Word Bank.
Halgren said international standards call for greater setback distances from roads and houses than those being used by NedPower and Shell WindEnergy. He claimed these standards were not included in the project's state permit because they were unknown to the PSC staff at the time.
According to Halgren, international standards call for setbacks ranging upwards to 1,025 feet. In contrast, he said six turbine sites along Grassy Ridge Road are located from 123-323 feet from the pavement, and within 500 feet of homes.
Halgren said the PSC staff favors an 820-foot setback between turbine towers and homes.
Braithwaite said that when the turbines spun for the first time Nov. 5 that he woke up in the middle of the night and went all around his house trying to find out what was making the noise that had awakened him.
"Then I opened the door and heard it.
Wind turbines at the Pinnacle Wind Farm on Green Mountain are being tested and already residents are expressing concern about noise, according to Wayne Spiggle, who is a member of the Allegheny Highlands Alliance.
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Residents opposed to a planned 124-turbine wind farm in southeastern West Virginia have rejected the developer's proposal to scale back the project in response to their concerns.
A Tasker Road resident who says the noise from the 23 wind turbines at Pinnacle Wind Farm often wakes him up at night presented the Mineral County Commissioners Tuesday with a petition seeking relief from the situation.
FAIRLEA — There was a lot of talk Tuesday about dead bats and birds, excessive noise and “flashing strobe lights” in the night sky if a state commission approves a proposed 124-turbine wind energy project.
More than 700 Greenbrier County residents have sent letters to the state Public Service Commission, opposing a plan to build one of the largest wind-power projects east of the Mississippi River.
The residents say the wind turbines will spoil mountain views, decrease property values, kill bats and birds, hurt tourism and ruin hunting and fishing in the area. They predict the wind turbines will catch fire during lightning strikes. And they say the turbines will interfere with emergency radio communications.
States with renewable portfolio standards have generated growth in the renewable energy sector, but many of the Appalachian states don't have one. Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New York all have some fairly progressive goals, but West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee don't have a state RPS and wind projects often ignite battles.
Residents of the Grassy Ridge Road area near the Dominion Power Plant at Mount Storm want to know who is going to repair the roadway into their summer cabins and residential communities and when.
The road is being damaged by heavy equipment use during the construction of the NedPower wind project.