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Board hears pro and con views on wind farm

While representatives of U.S. Wind Force were asking the Mineral County Board of Education Tuesday for their endorsement of the proposed Pinnacle Wind Farm, a member of the Allegheny Front Alliance asked them to think very, very carefully before they make any decision.

KEYSER - While representatives of U.S. Wind Force were asking the Mineral County Board of Education Tuesday for their endorsement of the proposed Pinnacle Wind Farm, a member of the Allegheny Front Alliance asked them to think very, very carefully before they make any decision.

David Friend, U.S. Wind Force vice president of sales and marketing, and Jim Cookman, vice president of project development, presented the board members with an overview of the proposed 23-turbine farm which will be clearly visible atop Green Mountain.

Hanging behind the board members' heads, in fact, was a panoramic artist's rendering of what the turbines will look like from the board's property at the South End Sports Complex.

Friend said they felt it would be appropriate to meet with the board since the county school system will be "the largest beneficiary" from the tax money to be generated by the project.

According to a pie chart included in Wind Force's Powerpoint presentation, the county school system would receive approximately 71 percent of the total property taxes from the project, while the county would receive 29 percent and the state, an almost negligible percentage.

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KEYSER - While representatives of U.S. Wind Force were asking the Mineral County Board of Education Tuesday for their endorsement of the proposed Pinnacle Wind Farm, a member of the Allegheny Front Alliance asked them to think very, very carefully before they make any decision.

David Friend, U.S. Wind Force vice president of sales and marketing, and Jim Cookman, vice president of project development, presented the board members with an overview of the proposed 23-turbine farm which will be clearly visible atop Green Mountain.

Hanging behind the board members' heads, in fact, was a panoramic artist's rendering of what the turbines will look like from the board's property at the South End Sports Complex.

Friend said they felt it would be appropriate to meet with the board since the county school system will be "the largest beneficiary" from the tax money to be generated by the project.

According to a pie chart included in Wind Force's Powerpoint presentation, the county school system would receive approximately 71 percent of the total property taxes from the project, while the county would receive 29 percent and the state, an almost negligible percentage.

The board's share in the first year has been estimated at $326,591.

In addition to the tax revenue, Friend told the board members about the project's Community Benefit Fund, which would set aside an estimated $50,000 during the first year of operation and $20,000 per subsequent year to be awarded to various charitable projects in the area.

When asked how far those contributions would reach, Friend estimated that areas "within about a six-mile radius of the project" would be considered by a community advisory panel made up of local members.

"That would include New Creek, Keyser, Elk Garden, Piedmont," he said.

After Friend told the board the company "would like to have their unabashed support," however, Allegheny Front Alliance member Frank O'Hara, who had signed up to speak at the beginning of the meeting but requested to wait until after Wind Force's presentation, passionately appealed to the board members to think long and hard before they get on board with the program. "Please get down and look seriously at what this project would do to Mineral County," he said.

"This mountain is beautiful. It's absolutely gorgeous. But it will change with this project and it will change this community," he said.

O'Hara, who admitted that Wind Force had asked him to sit on the community advisory panel, said the experience left him with a lot of questions. He also charged that the wind farm will not look like the artist's rendering provided by Wind Force.

"People are asking me, 'Will I have lower property values?'" I don't know," he said.

"You don't need to be jumping on the band wagon ... until you know what the facts are."

O'Hara, who had attended a meeting of the Mineral County Commission earlier in the day during which other members of the Allegheny Front Alliance spoke against the project, said he applauded the commissioners "because they are asking questions" and not immediately lending their support to Wind Force.

As for the promised community contributions, O'Hara said he feels "there is plenty of grant money out there" that would do just as well to boost local projects.

"Just think what this will mean to our community and what it will mean to our children down the road," he urged.

Later in the meeting, when asked if they wanted to place Wind Force's request on the agenda for their next board meeting, the members agreed to postpone any further discussion until a later date.


Source: http://www.newstribune.info...

JUL 15 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/21200-board-hears-pro-and-con-views-on-wind-farm
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