Library from Virginia
The chairman of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors is expressing frustration over repeated delays in a decision regarding a large-scale wind turbine farm for East River Mountain. Anderson made another motion late Tuesday night to proceed with a public hearing on a revised ridgeline protection ordinance. His motion died for a lack of a second. His fellow board members said they wanted to wait until an ongoing wind energy economic impact study was completed.
As a 19-tower wind turbine project nears the construction stage in Highland County, Va., just across the state line from Pocahontas County, it faces a whirlwind of objections from both sides of the border -- including a dispute about just where the border lies. The project also has drawn fire from Civil War battlefield preservation groups for the negative effects the wind farm would have on West Virginia's Camp Allegheny.
It's possible, says one state agency, that rare and endangered species and habitats exist on or near the 220 acres where Highland New Wind Development is building an industrial wind utility. Monday, project review coordinator Rene Hypes, of the Division of Natural Heritage, Department of Conservation and Recreation, sent a letter to the State Corporation Commission attorney Wayne Smith saying her agencies special ecologists should survey the project area to help the developer avoid damaging rare species.
The Pocahontas County Commission voted Tuesday to engage an attorney to help determine where the West Virginia-Virginia State line is on Tamarack Ridge of Allegheny Mountain. The dispute arose after Highland New Wind Development. LLC, released its site plan for more than 15 wind turbines to be built on the ridge, two of which could be on or very close to the West Virginia side of the line. Those wind turbines and possibly others will be visible from Camp Allegheny, a pristine Civil War site.
Concerned citizens of Pocahontas County and a resident of Virginia brought the issue of the Highland County wind turbine project intruding on the viewshed of Camp Allegheny in Bartow to the county commission's attention at Thursday's meeting. Virginia resident Dan Foster said his main concern is for Camp Allegheny and preserving the history of the battlefield, where the turbines will be visible from almost every angle.
Giant wind turbines are coming close to Pocahontas County and many residents are curious if the windmills will be visible from their homes. A helpful website with a strange name lets you find out with just a few clicks of the mouse. Heywhatsthat.com works in conjunction with Google Maps and provides custom viewsheds from any point on the globe.
The chairman of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors is wanting to see an ongoing wind energy economic impact study completed by September to help expedite a decision on a large-scale wind turbine project proposed for East River Mountain. "I would like to see it ready by our September meeting," David Anderson, who represents the county's Eastern District, said.
Virginia's national forests are emerging as a potential battleground for wind energy, a key part of efforts to develop alternatives to coal and oil in the United States. Few proposals have been made so far for wind farms in the thousands of acres of Virginia national forest, but those that have been submitted have sparked intense disagreement. ..."The whole wind energy thing is brand new to the forest service. We don't really have any experience or guidance with this," said James T. Smalls, district ranger for the Lee Ranger District of the George Washington & Jefferson national forests in Virginia.
West Virginia might have something to say about Mac McBride's plans for a wind energy utility in Highland County after all. Thursday, Highland resident Dan Foster was invited to speak to Pocahontas County Commissioners, addressing his concerns for Highland New Wind Development's project impacts on Camp Allegheny - the Civil War battlefield site is in Pocahontas ...This week, Foster said Pocahontas officials shared his concerns for the landmark battlefield, and intended to write to McBride, HNWD owner, and agency officials in both states.
Highland stands on the precipice of approving this state's first industrial wind utility. Special use permits have been issued. A checklist of conditions is being reviewed. The developer is pressuring our officials to give it the go-ahead for construction as early as next week. Citizens who fear the industrialization of one of Virginia's best natural resources feel exasperated because they think no one is listening and there's nothing they can do about it.
The two utilities behind the proposed Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline are putting their best foot forward. Officials from Allegheny Power and American Electric Power held an extensive briefing for reporters on Wednesday in advance of public hearings on the project. The $1.8 billion, 765-kilovolt line is proposed to run from St. Albans, W.Va., to Kemptown, Md., via northern Frederick County.
The Nelson County Planning Commission took comments from the public at its July 22 meeting on a proposed ordinance that would regulate small wind turbine energy systems used for electrical generation within Nelson County. ...The ordinance came about because there are several people in the county interested in using small wind energy systems.
A third meeting of county officials reviewing HNWD's plans was held at a brisk pace this week. The Technical Review Committee of county administrator Roberta Lambert and building official Jim Whitelaw is sorting through a checklist of conditions Highland New Wind Development must meet before it can get a green light for construction. Opponents of the 38-megawatt electric utility are pushing to hold the county, and HNWD, accountable for meeting their responsibilities, raising questions about erosion control, wetlands protection, proper maps, and other concerns.
As a microcosm of the wind plant controversy, the wetlands issue seems to be typical of the level of scrutiny applied to the plans for turbines on Allegheny Mountain. Highland New Wind's plans for a utility in the Laurel Fork watershed has garnered strong opposition from residents and landowners since 2002, and the current debate about wetlands on the project site is a tug of war ...Recently, three Highlanders submitted a letter to a number of state agencies and county officials, asserting there appears to be a wetlands area under which HNWD will bury a transmission line, and that HNWD has not applied for a federal permit to do that.
A month ago HNWD development made national news when its public relations firm announced that Virginia's first utility scale wind project was ready to start construction. As indicated here, that was a blatant misrepresentation. HNWD does not have a building permit, does not have an Erosion and Sediment Control permit, does not have approval from the FAA, has not satisfied the permit conditions imposed by the State Corporation Commission (SCC), and has not obtained an Endangered Species Act permit.
It's been seven years since Highland County heard about plans for a wind energy utility here, and Friday, things hit a major turning point. Highland New Wind Development submitted a site plan, and things are moving in earnest on several fronts in anticipation of securing a date for construction. ...Whether HNWD has met all the conditions attached to county and state permits will be determined by a Technical Review Committee appointed by the board of supervisors;
Though Highland New Wind Development has asked the county to issue it a building permit by July 15, there is work left to be done. HNWD, as required by the State Corporation Commission, compiled a list of what it believes are the environmental and other approvals and permits needed for its project - a total of eight. Some of these have a subset of conditions or requirements as well.
The source of the reported information is the developer's public relations spokesman, Frank Maisano, who announced in a press release that the company has filed a site plan, which he characterized as the last step in obtaining a building permit. The newspapers in question simply repeated the company's public relations material on the controversial project.
The fate of a proposed wind turbine project for East River Mountain is now back in the hands of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors. After several weeks of review by members of the county's Planning Commission, the commission voted 3-2 Thursday to forward a proposed ridgeline protection ordinance back to the supervisors.
Saying he is not interested in a repeat of a "sales pitch," Mineral County President Wayne Spiggle is spelling out four specific issues which he wants representatives of U.S. Wind Force to answer when they meet with the commissioners on June 23.