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Ashe County official files plans to build windmills - Proposal may conflict with ridge law from '80s

A wind farm of 25 to 28 windmills generating electricity to be sold to power companies is being proposed in western Ashe County, according to an order from the N.C. Utilities Commission on Tuesday that requires the public to be alerted about the proposal.

Richard Calhoun, a doctor and an Ashe County commissioner, filed an application July 26 on behalf of Northwest Wind Energies LLC, a company that he owns with his brother, Tommy.

Development costs for the wind farm are estimated at $60 million to $65 million, the application says.

Financing arrangements are pending, the application says. A comprehensive wind study will be completed before financing begins. The application says that contacts have been established with potential lenders and investors.

The wind turbines will rise nearly 300 feet. The site is on Big Springs Mountain on land bordered by Rich Hill Road, Willie Walker Road, Roaring Fork Road, Big Springs Road and East Springs Road.

Plans call for the wind farm to begin generating electricity in the fall of 2008, with a service lifetime of 20 to 25 years.

The filing says that continuing discussions on selling the electricity to Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corp.

The windmills would have a capacity of 50 megawatts, enough to power about 12,000 homes, if the wind is constant.

The application says that if the wind turbines operate at 35 percent of capacity, the yearly... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Richard Calhoun, a doctor and an Ashe County commissioner, filed an application July 26 on behalf of Northwest Wind Energies LLC, a company that he owns with his brother, Tommy.

Development costs for the wind farm are estimated at $60 million to $65 million, the application says.

Financing arrangements are pending, the application says. A comprehensive wind study will be completed before financing begins. The application says that contacts have been established with potential lenders and investors.

The wind turbines will rise nearly 300 feet. The site is on Big Springs Mountain on land bordered by Rich Hill Road, Willie Walker Road, Roaring Fork Road, Big Springs Road and East Springs Road.

Plans call for the wind farm to begin generating electricity in the fall of 2008, with a service lifetime of 20 to 25 years.

The filing says that continuing discussions on selling the electricity to Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corp.

The windmills would have a capacity of 50 megawatts, enough to power about 12,000 homes, if the wind is constant.

The application says that if the wind turbines operate at 35 percent of capacity, the yearly power production would be about 150 million kilowatt hours.

An average home uses about 1,000 kilowatt hours a month.

On Monday, Watauga County became the first county in North Carolina to pass an ordinance regulating windmills.

But there are disputes about whether the state's ridge law would allow wind farms.

Watauga County's ordinance said that the county had determined that single wind-power turbines are exempt from the N.C Mountain Ridge Protection act, commonly called the ridge law.

The ridge law was adopted in 1983 when people were upset by construction of the Sugar Top high-rise resort in Avery County.

The ridge law limits building heights to 40 feet for ridges at or above 3,000 feet or which are 500 or more feet above a valley floor.

The ordinance that Watauga commissioners adopted includes a legal memorandum that says the county is not addressing the right to use wind turbines that are part of large wind farms.

In 2002, when the Tennessee Valley Authority was considering putting a wind farm on Stone Mountain with as many as 16 large wind turbines, just a few hundred feet from the state line, N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper lent his support to people fighting to keep them away.

Cooper wrote a letter to TVA administrators telling them that they had misinterpreted the ridge law by saying that it would allow the construction of a similar wind farm inside North Carolina.

The ridge law's windmill exceptions, Cooper wrote, were "the solitary farm windmill which has long been in use in rural communities, not wind farm turbines of the size, type or certainly number proposed here, especially when all the turbines would probably be seen together from most view locations."

A spokeswoman for the N.C. Department of Justice, Noelle Talley said, yesterday that Cooper stood by that interpretation.

"Our position that North Carolina's ridge law should be taken into consideration when making determinations on where to place windmill farms has not changed," Talley wrote in an e-mail.

"The Attorney General supports implementing alternative energy sources in an effort to strive for energy independence," she wrote, "but any energy source must not violate state and federal laws and regulations. We're for wind farms in the right places."

• Monte Mitchell can be reached in Wilkesboro at 336-667-5691 or at mmitchell@wsjournal.com.

 


Source: http://www.journalnow.com/s...

AUG 11 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/3913-ashe-county-official-files-plans-to-build-windmills-proposal-may-conflict-with-ridge-law-from-80s
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