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Examiner: Toss Highland Co. wind farm complaint

A complaint that a proposed wind farm in Highland County will ruin the view from a nearby Civil War battlefield should be dismissed, a hearing examiner with the State Corporation Commission ruled Monday. The recommendation, which now goes to the full SCC, appears to give a green light for developers of the first commercial wind farm in Virginia.

Foes of a proposed Highland County facility said it would affect a Civil War site.

A complaint that a proposed wind farm in Highland County will ruin the view from a nearby Civil War battlefield should be dismissed, a hearing examiner with the State Corporation Commission ruled Monday.

The recommendation, which now goes to the full SCC, appears to give a green light for developers of the first commercial wind farm in Virginia.

Highland New Wind Development has said it plans to begin construction this spring of 19 turbines that will tower 400 feet above a ridge along the West Virginia line, capturing enough energy from the wind to provide electricity to 12,000 homes.

Opponents say the wind farm will mar the scenic beauty of Highland County and undermine the historical significance of the Camp Allegheny Battlefield, which is just across the state line in Pocahontas County, W.Va.

In August, the state Department of Historical Resources filed a complaint with the SCC, claiming that Highland New Wind had failed to consult with it over how to mitigate the "negative impact" the project would have on the battlefield, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

But in a report filed Monday,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Foes of a proposed Highland County facility said it would affect a Civil War site.

A complaint that a proposed wind farm in Highland County will ruin the view from a nearby Civil War battlefield should be dismissed, a hearing examiner with the State Corporation Commission ruled Monday.

The recommendation, which now goes to the full SCC, appears to give a green light for developers of the first commercial wind farm in Virginia.

Highland New Wind Development has said it plans to begin construction this spring of 19 turbines that will tower 400 feet above a ridge along the West Virginia line, capturing enough energy from the wind to provide electricity to 12,000 homes.

Opponents say the wind farm will mar the scenic beauty of Highland County and undermine the historical significance of the Camp Allegheny Battlefield, which is just across the state line in Pocahontas County, W.Va.

In August, the state Department of Historical Resources filed a complaint with the SCC, claiming that Highland New Wind had failed to consult with it over how to mitigate the "negative impact" the project would have on the battlefield, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

But in a report filed Monday, hearing examiner Alexander Skirpan recommended that the complaint be dismissed on a number of grounds.

When the SCC approved the wind farm in 2007, view-shed issues were barred from further consideration because they already had been addressed by the Highland County Board of Supervisors when it issued a conditional-use permit for the project, Skirpan wrote in the 11-page report.

Although the SCC's approval did require Highland New Wind to work with state agencies on how the project might affect historical resources, Skirpan ruled that the developers had met that condition after the complaint was filed by sharing information with the Department of Historic Resources.

Beyond that, he wrote, the department lacked authority to regulate the project because the affected area was not within the state of Virginia.

Wind farm opponents vowed to push on Monday, citing other issues that they say remain unresolved. Among them: The impact that the giant turbines will have on birds and bats, and whether the developers must obtain a permit required by the Endangered Species Act.

Questions also have been raised about an erosion and sediment control plan, which critics contend is inadequate to protect nearby Laurel Fork, a pristine trout stream.

Although the SCC's latest action was a setback for opponents, they vowed to continue a fight that already has lasted six years.

"Highland New Wind is persistent," county resident and wind farm opponent Rick Webb said. "But so is the opposition."

A spokesman for Highland New Wind Development could not be reached for comment Monday.


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

JAN 26 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/24324-examiner-toss-highland-co-wind-farm-complaint
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