Library from Virginia
Uncertainty rules in windfarm politics. What is clear is that opponents come from the left and from the right -- and that neither side knows the true effects of 400-foot turbines built on 4,000-foot Appalachian ridges.
What are we in Highland to make of these statements and actions? Clearly, these men have a stake in seeing turbines on Highland’s ridges. Rather than responsibly considering the bird and bat impacts in any sort of serious way, they go to great lengths to stifle or belittle credible research recommending that wind turbines be put on hold until bat mortality can be understood and mitigated and until bird impacts can be studied.
No matter how much tax revenue the utility might add to county coffers, money cannot replace the hard-to-quantify scenic landscapes and cumulative effects of such projects in the Appalachian highlands.
Two of the three Highland County supervisors seem to have dismissed one of life's cardinal rules: There's no free lunch.
It raises a question Virginia and the nation must face: Should the wind industry continue to enjoy generous subsidies?
This sounds good, but he falls far short of meeting this standard when he assigns the NIMBY label to those who are raising questions about environmental harm. Apparently he feels there is no need to deal with specific issues when a sweeping ad hominem dismissal will suffice.
This page [author's website] is dedicated to economic information that applies to wind-power projects anywhere in the United States and specifically applies to the Highland New Wind Development project proposed for the northwestern corner of Highland County, VA. Let me say right up front that I am not an economist or tax accountant. I will try to compile factual information on the economics of wind power along with the opinions of recognized experts in this field. Editor's Note: This provides a good overview of the production tax credit, capacity factor, renewable portfolio standards, renewable energy certificates. and accelerated depreciation. Readers are encouraged to visit the author's site via the link below for the most current version, e.g. the author is planning to update the production tax credit information to the current prevailing rate of 1.9 cents per kWh.
..modern commercial wind projects present their own set of environmental problems due to the massive scale and numbers of the turbines, the high wind-energy potential of our ecologically sensitive mountain ridges and coastal waters, and the absence of any reliable pre-development assessment process.
“Again, we reiterate the need for the planning commission and board of supervisors to draft an amendment to comprehensive plan, and possibly even zoning ordinance amendments, stating the county’s position with regard to wind development in Highland. That may include no wind energy development at all (small or large), small wind only, or a combination of some small wind and a limited number of large wind facilities. It may include designating wind development zones and excluding certain zones/areas or simply setting a base level criteria."
Senior planner Darryl Crawford, of the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission, handed planners a list of recommendations to consider for wind energy permit applications last week, telling the commission it should determine whether Highland County wants industrial wind plants within its borders. A summary of Crawford’s 20-page set of recommendations is (attached):
Unlike in the west, the vast majority of birds likely to be killed at wind turbines in the east are neotropical migrants - which pass through our region mostly at night. Many of these species are already under severe pressure due to loss and fragmentation of breeding and wintering habitat.