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SCC gives go-ahead for wind farm project in Highland County

A mountain ridge in Highland County has been cleared for the state's first commercial wind farm. While site preparation began last summer, official clearance came recently from the State Corporation Commission, which dismissed a complaint that the project will ruin the view from a nearby Civil War battlefield.

The state agency dismissed a complaint regarding its "negative impact" on a viewshed.

A mountain ridge in Highland County has been cleared for the state's first commercial wind farm.

While site preparation began last summer, official clearance came recently from the State Corporation Commission, which dismissed a complaint that the project will ruin the view from a nearby Civil War battlefield.

Developers are planning 19 turbines that will tower 400 feet above a ridge along the West Virginia line, capturing enough energy from the wind to power 12,000 homes.

The SCC approved the project in 2007, but revisited the so-called viewshed issue last summer after the Virginia Department of Historic Resources filed a complaint.

Highland New Wind Development, the project developer, failed to consult with the Department of Historical Resources over how to best mitigate the "negative impact" the windmills will have on the Camp Allegheny Battlefield, according to the complaint.

In an order posted to its Web site Monday, the SCC dismissed the complaint. The decision was based on state law that prevented the SCC from addressing viewshed issues that had already been considered by the Highland County Board of Supervisors... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The state agency dismissed a complaint regarding its "negative impact" on a viewshed.

A mountain ridge in Highland County has been cleared for the state's first commercial wind farm.

While site preparation began last summer, official clearance came recently from the State Corporation Commission, which dismissed a complaint that the project will ruin the view from a nearby Civil War battlefield.

Developers are planning 19 turbines that will tower 400 feet above a ridge along the West Virginia line, capturing enough energy from the wind to power 12,000 homes.

The SCC approved the project in 2007, but revisited the so-called viewshed issue last summer after the Virginia Department of Historic Resources filed a complaint.

Highland New Wind Development, the project developer, failed to consult with the Department of Historical Resources over how to best mitigate the "negative impact" the windmills will have on the Camp Allegheny Battlefield, according to the complaint.

In an order posted to its Web site Monday, the SCC dismissed the complaint. The decision was based on state law that prevented the SCC from addressing viewshed issues that had already been considered by the Highland County Board of Supervisors when it granted a conditional use permit for the project.

The SCC's decision followed the recommendation of a hearing examiner who presided over the dispute.

Wind farm officials have taken some steps to consult with state officials over concerns about the battlefield, less than two miles away in Pocahontas County, W.Va., the hearing examiner found.

However, some of the towers are expected to be visible from the battleground, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Late in the proceedings, the Department of Historic Resources argued that because construction has yet to start on the wind farm, the developers had violated a "sunset provision" that required work to begin within two years of the SCC approving the project.

Highland New Wind responded that road building and site development began in August -- four months before the permit would have expired.

The SCC ruled that the developers did not violate the sunset provision.

A spokesman for Highland New Wind has said construction of the wind towers will begin this spring.

Opponents of the wind farm say it will mar the scenic beauty of Highland County, which calls itself Virginia's Switzerland. Critics say additional issues remain, including the project's impact on birds and bats that might fly into the huge spinning blades, and possible erosion into nearby Laurel Fork, a pristine trout stream.


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

MAR 2 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/24886-scc-gives-go-ahead-for-wind-farm-project-in-highland-county
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