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Mollohan opposes wind project - Industry targeting W.Va., he says

Rep. Alan Mollohan wants the state to call a timeout on proposed wind energy projects, including a Chicago developer’s plans to build 124 wind turbines in Greenbrier County.

If the Public Service Commission approves that project later this month, the state would open the door for the construction of “thousands” of additional wind turbines atop West Virginia’s mountain ridges, Mollohan, D-W.Va., predicts.

In a letter sent to the PSC, Mollohan alleges that Beech Ridge Energy ignored a U.S. Fish and Wildlife recommendation to complete additional studies on the Greenbrier County wind project’s impact on migratory birds and bats.

Mollohan also said West Virginians will endure the negative effects of “industrial wind-energy facilities” while out-of-state companies and residents receive the benefits.

“Right now, these industrial wind projects are slipping in under the regulatory radar,” Mollohan said Monday. “We’re allowing these out-of-state interests to build them without any regulatory scheme to monitor or approve them.”

The PSC plans to decide on Beech Ridge’s $300 million project by Aug. 28.

Project supporters noted Monday that Mollohan’s congressional district doesn’t include Greenbrier County.

They said Mollohan has ignored the potential positive economic impacts — jobs and increased tax revenues — that the wind project would bring.

Mollohan’s congressional... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

If the Public Service Commission approves that project later this month, the state would open the door for the construction of “thousands” of additional wind turbines atop West Virginia’s mountain ridges, Mollohan, D-W.Va., predicts.

In a letter sent to the PSC, Mollohan alleges that Beech Ridge Energy ignored a U.S. Fish and Wildlife recommendation to complete additional studies on the Greenbrier County wind project’s impact on migratory birds and bats.

Mollohan also said West Virginians will endure the negative effects of “industrial wind-energy facilities” while out-of-state companies and residents receive the benefits.

“Right now, these industrial wind projects are slipping in under the regulatory radar,” Mollohan said Monday. “We’re allowing these out-of-state interests to build them without any regulatory scheme to monitor or approve them.”

The PSC plans to decide on Beech Ridge’s $300 million project by Aug. 28.

Project supporters noted Monday that Mollohan’s congressional district doesn’t include Greenbrier County.

They said Mollohan has ignored the potential positive economic impacts — jobs and increased tax revenues — that the wind project would bring.

Mollohan’s congressional district includes the state’s only existing wind project, Mountaineer Wind Energy Center in Tucker County. The PSC also has approved two other projects in Mollohan’s district — both at Mount Storm in Grant County.

“He’s got projects in his district that are doing very well,” said Frank Maisano, a spokesman for wind energy developers, including Beech Ridge. “It’s disappointing to us that folks like Congressman Mollohan don’t recognize the incredible benefits these projects bring to communities in West Virginia and to the environment.”

Mollohan said he wrote to the PSC about the Greenbrier wind project, even though it’s not in his district, because the agency’s decision later this month will have “statewide policy implications” and could “redefine the ridgelines of West Virginia.”

“It is evident that wind-energy developers have targeted this state, and that if they are allowed to have their way, thousands of industrial wind turbines will be erected across the mountain ridges of West Virginia,” Mollohan said in the letter.

Mollohan said wind-turbine projects create excessive noise, damage wildlife, and kill bats and birds.

He said the PSC should require Beech Ridge to complete additional studies before deciding on the company’s application.

Mollohan also believes wind-turbine projects will hurt West Virginia’s growing tourism industry. He said many people build second homes in West Virginia because of its natural beauty, which would be spoiled by wind projects.

Mollohan said the power generated by the Greenbrier County wind turbines would be used by out-of-state consumers. West Virginia already generates twice the amount of electricity that the state consumes, he said.

Mollohan urged state legislators to pass laws that would allow residents in affected communities, such as Greenbrier County, to vote on referendums on whether wind projects should be built.

Maisano said Beech Ridge and other West Virginia wind developers have been “overly compliant” in meeting the PSC’s requirements.

“They’ve been willing to step up to the plate and work in a comprehensive and collaborative fashion,” he said.

Wind project opponents said Mollohan’s letter gives them another boost in their fight against wind energy developers.

“If this [Greenbrier County] project is permitted, it will be energizing to the others waiting in the wings,” said Linda Cooper, president of Citizens for Responsible Wind Power. “Anytime you have the support of a congressman, it lends more to the case.”

Last month, the PSC rejected a Pennsylvania developer’s plans to build a 50-turbine project atop Jack Mountain in Pendleton County. Liberty Gap Wind Force has asked the PSC to reconsider the decision.

To contact staff writer Eric Eyre, use e-mail or call 348-4869.

 


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

AUG 8 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/3867-mollohan-opposes-wind-project-industry-targeting-w-va-he-says
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