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State rejects wind project

Commissioners rejected Liberty Gap Wind Force’s application because the company wouldn’t allow an opposition group’s hydrology consultant on the proposed project site, according to the commission’s order. The decision stunned wind company officials and breathed new life into groups opposing other wind projects in West Virginia.

The state Public Service Commission on Monday dismissed a wind developer’s application to build 50 wind turbines on Jack Mountain in Pendleton County.

Commissioners rejected Liberty Gap Wind Force’s application because the company wouldn’t allow an opposition group’s hydrology consultant on the proposed project site, according to the commission’s order.

The decision stunned wind company officials and breathed new life into groups opposing other wind projects in West Virginia. Liberty Gap is a subsidiary of US Wind Force, which also plans to build 166 wind turbines at Mount Storm in Grant County.

The PSC was scheduled to hear testimony next month about the $100 million Pendleton County wind project. Those hearings have been canceled.

“We were really taken by surprise,” said Frank Maisano, a spokesman for a coalition of mid-Atlantic regional wind developers, including US Wind Force. “The decision isn’t supported by the facts and the law.”

Earlier this month, a project opposition group called Friends of Beautiful Pendleton County asked the Public Service Commission to impose sanctions against Liberty Gap after the company refused to allow a consultant on the property. The group said the PSC should... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The state Public Service Commission on Monday dismissed a wind developer’s application to build 50 wind turbines on Jack Mountain in Pendleton County.

Commissioners rejected Liberty Gap Wind Force’s application because the company wouldn’t allow an opposition group’s hydrology consultant on the proposed project site, according to the commission’s order.

The decision stunned wind company officials and breathed new life into groups opposing other wind projects in West Virginia. Liberty Gap is a subsidiary of US Wind Force, which also plans to build 166 wind turbines at Mount Storm in Grant County.

The PSC was scheduled to hear testimony next month about the $100 million Pendleton County wind project. Those hearings have been canceled.

“We were really taken by surprise,” said Frank Maisano, a spokesman for a coalition of mid-Atlantic regional wind developers, including US Wind Force. “The decision isn’t supported by the facts and the law.”

Earlier this month, a project opposition group called Friends of Beautiful Pendleton County asked the Public Service Commission to impose sanctions against Liberty Gap after the company refused to allow a consultant on the property. The group said the PSC should limit Liberty Gap’s lawyers’ ability to cross examine witnesses during hearings.

Project critics alleged that Liberty Gap exhibited a “hostile attitude.” The group noted that Liberty allowed PSC staff members to inspect the site last May.

Liberty Gap asked the wind project opposition group to sign a liability waiver. Friends of Beautiful Pendleton County refused.

In their order, commissioners alleged that Liberty Gap’s waiver request was a delaying tactic and “unreasonable and contrary to the public interest.” Commissioners accused the company of “repeated unreasonable behavior.”

“This is a pretty stiff ruling. The Public Service Commission seems a little irritated with them,” said Linda Cooper, president of the Morgantown-based Citizens for Responsible Wind Power, which assisted the Pendleton opposition group in the case.

Maisano said Liberty Gap plans to ask the PSC to reconsider its decision.

“This would have a devastating impact on the timeline of the project,” Maisano said. “It’s going to have real economic consequences.”

The benefits to Pendleton County would include $90,000 in business and occupation taxes and $167,500 in property taxes a year, according to the company. The 100-megawatt project would provide up to 200 construction jobs and five to 12 permanent jobs.

The turbines would be up to 400 feet tall and stretch along a 6.5-mile ridgeline south of Franklin and just east of the South Branch of the Potomac River.

The 5,000-acre site is owned by three parties, including Allegheny Wood Products.

 


Source: http://sundaygazettemail.co...

JUL 25 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/3642-state-rejects-wind-project
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