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Area wind farm would improve health, group says

Support from the coalition is contingent on the developers obtaining approval from regulatory agencies that include the Federal Aviation Administration and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Some residents of Poor Mountain have voiced concerns.

A Roanoke Valley air quality organization backed the plan for Poor Mountain.

Putting giant windmills on top of Poor Mountain could help improve the Roanoke Valley's air quality, a clean-air organization said Monday in backing the project.

The commercial wind farm would be "an important first step" toward reducing health risks posed by coal-fired power plants, the Greater Roanoke Valley Asthma and Air Quality Coalition said.

Pollution from burning coal -- which provides 88 percent of the region's electricity -- is a key reason why Roanoke-area residents suffer at a disproportionate rate from asthma and other pulmonary disorders, said Stuart Tousman, secretary of the coalition.

"We're in a fishbowl here," Tousman said of surrounding mountains that can trap ozone and fine particulate matter.

Although the region's air quality has been improving in recent years, the amount of ground-level ozone in the Roanoke Valley is in danger of violating federal health standards under new guidelines proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Renewable energy advocates say wind farms like the one planned for Roanoke County are needed to reduce the country's dependence on coal.

A proposal by Invenergy, a... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A Roanoke Valley air quality organization backed the plan for Poor Mountain.

Putting giant windmills on top of Poor Mountain could help improve the Roanoke Valley's air quality, a clean-air organization said Monday in backing the project.

The commercial wind farm would be "an important first step" toward reducing health risks posed by coal-fired power plants, the Greater Roanoke Valley Asthma and Air Quality Coalition said.

Pollution from burning coal -- which provides 88 percent of the region's electricity -- is a key reason why Roanoke-area residents suffer at a disproportionate rate from asthma and other pulmonary disorders, said Stuart Tousman, secretary of the coalition.

"We're in a fishbowl here," Tousman said of surrounding mountains that can trap ozone and fine particulate matter.

Although the region's air quality has been improving in recent years, the amount of ground-level ozone in the Roanoke Valley is in danger of violating federal health standards under new guidelines proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Renewable energy advocates say wind farms like the one planned for Roanoke County are needed to reduce the country's dependence on coal.

A proposal by Invenergy, a Chicago-based company, calls for 15 to 18 turbines on a portion of Poor Mountain that already is the site of television and radio towers. At 443 feet -- about five times the height of the Mill Mountain Star -- the turbines would be much taller than the existing towers.

Electricity generated by the windmills could power about 8,000 Roanoke County homes in way that would be the equivalent of taking 20,000 cars off the highway, the coalition said in a resolution supporting the Poor Mountain project.

Support from the coalition is contingent on the developers obtaining approval from regulatory agencies that include the Federal Aviation Administration and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

Some residents of Poor Mountain have voiced concerns about the windmills, saying they would be an eyesore, kill birds and bats, and generate noise and flickering shadows.

Developers say they are awaiting approval from the FAA. If the agency finds no adverse impact on aircraft approaching and leaving the Roanoke Regional Airport, Invenergy would then seek a special-use permit from the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors.

Although the wind industry has grown in recent years, Virginia has yet to see a wind farm in operation. The State Corporation Commission approved a 19-turbine project in Highland County, which has since stalled for reasons the developers have declined to discuss.


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

SEP 28 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/28231-area-wind-farm-would-improve-health-group-says
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