Article

Wind project gets hearing - Opponents, supporters of a wind farm in Highland County spoke at an SCC public hearing Monday

MONTEREY -- Cavers, birdwatchers, homeowners and others urged state officials Monday to deny the approval of 19 wind turbines on mountain ridges in Highland County.

Testifying at the first of several public hearings before the State Corporation Commission, opponents of Virginia's first major wind farm said the proposed turbines would kill birds and bats, hurt property values, discourage ecotourism and open the door for further industrial wind-energy development in the rural county.

Highland New Wind Development LLC is the "nose of the wolf poking its nose through the door of our future," said G.K. McClung, a Monterey resident.

Project supporters said the windmills would have little impact on the environment, but would generate clean electricity as part of America's growing wind energy industry and would produce about $200,000 a year in tax revenue for the financially strapped rural county.

"I just don't think it would hurt a thing in this county," said Jacob Hevener, a retired farmer.

The SCC is taking public testimony as part of its review of Highland New Wind's application to construct the $60 million wind turbines on the property of company owner Hal McBride.

The state Department of Environmental Quality last week suspended the state's review of the project until Highland New Wind responds to concerns raised by several state agencies. The project was first proposed in... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Testifying at the first of several public hearings before the State Corporation Commission, opponents of Virginia's first major wind farm said the proposed turbines would kill birds and bats, hurt property values, discourage ecotourism and open the door for further industrial wind-energy development in the rural county.
 
Highland New Wind Development LLC is the "nose of the wolf poking its nose through the door of our future," said G.K. McClung, a Monterey resident.
 
Project supporters said the windmills would have little impact on the environment, but would generate clean electricity as part of America's growing wind energy industry and would produce about $200,000 a year in tax revenue for the financially strapped rural county.
 
"I just don't think it would hurt a thing in this county," said Jacob Hevener, a retired farmer.
 
The SCC is taking public testimony as part of its review of Highland New Wind's application to construct the $60 million wind turbines on the property of company owner Hal McBride.
 
The state Department of Environmental Quality last week suspended the state's review of the project until Highland New Wind responds to concerns raised by several state agencies. The project was first proposed in 1999.
 
The agencies questioned the validity of studies done by Highland New Wind's consultant, ABR Inc., that showed the project would have minimal impact on birds, bats and the environment.
 
The state Department of Game and Inland Fisheries said the turbines could kill more birds and bats than any wind farm in the East.
 
ABR's findings were based on incomplete and inaccurate data and demonstrate the need for extensive further research, according to the state game department.
 
Rick Webb, a University of Virginia scientist, said the damage to the environment caused by the wind turbines would outweigh the benefits of the small amount of electricity generated.
 
The state agencies want at least a year of further research before construction and several more years of study after construction to determine the project's impact.
 
The company's research should be conducted in consultation with state and federal agencies, and the project's environmental impacts should be considered as part of the cumulative impact of the 88 currently operating and more than 900 planned wind turbines in the Alleghany Highlands of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, the game department said.
 
Frank Maisano, a spokesman for Highland New Wind, said Monday's hearing was an important step in moving the project forward so that the county, the environment and Virginia electricity consumers can benefit from the wind farm.
 
Highland New Wind co-owner Tal McBride said the company was cooperating with the state agencies, but didn't know how or when it would respond to their concerns.
 
 


Source: http://www.roanoke.com/news...

MAR 15 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/1689-wind-project-gets-hearing-opponents-supporters-of-a-wind-farm-in-highland-county-spoke-at-an-scc-public-hearing-monday
back to top