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Turbines concern Mollohan

More wind farms could cause major problems for West Virginia’s mountains, Rep. Alan B. Mollohan, D-W.Va., warns.

He sent a statement read during a public meeting Wednesday on the environmental impact of such farms.

Wind-farm backers insisted huge modern wind turbines are an environment-friendly form of energy.

The National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Environmental Impacts of Wind Energy Projects, held the public meeting at the Charleston Civic Center.

Tucker County is home to the largest windmill farm east of the Mississippi River — the 44-turbine Mountaineer Energy Wind Center owned by Florida Power and Light. Several other larger wind farms are proposed.

Mollohan’s statement said, “Because of the huge physical size of these projects, their starkly industrial appearance and the fact that they dominate the view of the entire area in which they are located, these projects naturally raise concerns when they are proposed to be sited in areas that people enjoy for their scenic, natural beauty.”

Mollohan noted the wind industry is heavily subsidized by “major tax preferences” from state and federal governments.

He also warned environmental problems could “become exponentially worse as the industry, supported by those governmental subsidies, expands ... in environmentally sensitive areas.”

Critics argue huge... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
He sent a statement read during a public meeting Wednesday on the environmental impact of such farms.

Wind-farm backers insisted huge modern wind turbines are an environment-friendly form of energy.

The National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Environmental Impacts of Wind Energy Projects, held the public meeting at the Charleston Civic Center.

Tucker County is home to the largest windmill farm east of the Mississippi River — the 44-turbine Mountaineer Energy Wind Center owned by Florida Power and Light. Several other larger wind farms are proposed.

Mollohan’s statement said, “Because of the huge physical size of these projects, their starkly industrial appearance and the fact that they dominate the view of the entire area in which they are located, these projects naturally raise concerns when they are proposed to be sited in areas that people enjoy for their scenic, natural beauty.”

Mollohan noted the wind industry is heavily subsidized by “major tax preferences” from state and federal governments.

He also warned environmental problems could “become exponentially worse as the industry, supported by those governmental subsidies, expands ... in environmentally sensitive areas.”

Critics argue huge wind turbines kill bats and birds, and also disrupt tourist destinations near unspoiled mountain ridges.

Frank Maisano, a spokesman the American Wind Energy Association, said, “Wind energy is a clean, renewable resource that reduces global warming and requires no fuel supply.

“While no form of energy development is without consequences, it is important to be mindful of these benefits,” he said.

“The wind industry is committed to, and has demonstrated, continual innovations leading to greater protection of the environment and wildlife,” Maisano said, adding that the wind industry “welcomes the focus on, and comparison with, the impacts of all sources of power generation.”

Four new wind projects are proposed for West Virginia:

# US WindForce wants to build an 89-turbine project on 12,000 acres in the Mount Storm area of Grant County.

# Shell WindEnergy has plans to build a 150-turbine project on 8,000 acres of mountain ridges in the same area. The company bought NedPower, which had originally proposed a 200-turbine project.

# Invenergy Wind asked the state Public Service Commission to approve a 124-turbine project in Greenbrier County last month.

# US WindForce wants to build a 50-turbine project on Jack Mountain in Pendleton County, according to an application it filed last week with the PSC.

Those four projects would increase the number of wind turbines in the state from 44 to 457.

Mollohan said public reaction to the Jack Mountain project soured after people learned that U.S. WindForce and county officials “secretly entered into arrangements for use of the county’s eminent domain power to secure rights of way for a transmission line.”

An American Wind Energy Association analysis predicted wind energy could grow nationally from generating enough power to serve 1.6 million homes today to 25 million homes by 2020. The industry analysis predicted wind power would generate at least 6 percent of the nation’s electricity. It generates less than 1 percent now.

Two dozen workers who build wind turbines also attended the Charleston meeting.

Darwin L. Snyder, a business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said the Mountaineer wind project created about 300 construction jobs between May and December 2003, when it was built.

Many employees worked six or seven days a week, earning overtime pay on many days.

Judy Rodd, who heads the group Friends of Blackwater, warned of environmental dangers when she spoke to the committee.

“We are trying to grapple with this new industry, which is unregulated,” she said. “There is no public debate, no science on this issue, no knowledge of the cumulative impacts of wind farms and no concern to weed out bad projects before they are built.”

Rodd believes conflict between wind-power companies and companies that want to build second homes and boost tourism will grow if more wind farms are built.

Source: http://wvgazette.com/sectio...

DEC 15 2005
http://www.windaction.org/posts/697-turbines-concern-mollohan
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