Library filed under General from Virginia
Highlanders for Responsible Development remains committed to its watchdog role involving the Highland New Wind Development industrial wind facility, says HRD president Randy Richardson. "We remain concerned, we are not disappearing, we are going to keep an eye on it." Formed in August 2005 largely in response to the proposed wind turbine project, the non-profit organization continues to meet monthly and monitor wind-energy activity.
For a company that hopes to start construction on Virginia's first wind energy plant in the next few months, Highland New Wind Development appears to be dragging its heels. Recently, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation said it had not heard from the developer after requesting more information in its initial review. Last week, Virginia's Department of Historic Resources said it still awaits a view shed study, among other things, before it can offer recommendations for softening the impact of 400-foottowers on Highland County's tallest summit. In the last three months, updates from the developer to Highland's supervisors haven't yielded much new information. HNWD says it's still seeking investors, has not finalized a power purchase agreement, and cannot complete a final site plan because securing turbine equipment has become harder to do.
After reviewing thousands of pages of testimony and comments from numerous public hearings, Judges Mark A. Hoyer and Michael A. Nemec in a 364-page document said Allegheny Energy, through its transmission line subsidiary TrAILCo had "failed to carry the burden of truth" for the entire 240-mile project. "Based on our review of the entire record, we have concluded that little or no need for reinforcement in the Prexy service area presently exists," the judges wrote.
Oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens is being disingenuous, telling one thing to the American people and another to Congress. He has repeatedly said that no government help is needed to pursue his plan to build the world's largest wind farm in the Texas Panhandle. Yet he is lobbying hard for extension of the Production Tax Credit and National Renewable Energy Zones -- essentially a huge tax shelter for wind industry investors and expedited eminent domain for transmission corridors. The real innovation here is the well-coordinated manipulation of public perception.
The first sentence in the Washington Post article, Wind is Given 2nd Look as Energy Needs Grow, gets right to the point: the energy industry has targeted western Virginia's forested mountains for industrial wind energy development. "Wind is catching fire" said L. Preston Bryant Jr. Virginia's secretary of natural resources. "It is literally all the rage." Although the Washington Post article highlights the "conflict within the environmental community" concerning this development push, it fails to provide much in the way of details concerning the basis for the objections.
Miles of mountain ridges hugging the state's western border could hold the key to Virginia's search for alternative energy sources. That is where developers are looking to build more than 100 wind turbines taller than the Statue of Liberty, side by side, on 18 miles of the George Washington National Forest. ...But the new push for wind energy in Virginia has highlighted a conflict within the environmental community. Some groups, which have long clamored for more renewable energy sources and encouraged wind power instead of a new coal-burning power plant in southwest Virginia, oppose the FreedomWorks project, the largest wind proposal in the state, because of the potential harm to plants and animals. "We are strong advocates for renewable energy and wind energy," said Glen Besa, director of the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club. "But we would like to see it developed responsibly."
They're up and they're spinning. Dozens of wind turbines in Grant County are generating electricity, though they haven't been without problems. Crossing into Virginia, there's a proposal for about 130 wind turbines to be built in the George Washington National Forest, as well as a much smaller operation in Highland County. However, these projects haven't developed without some strong opposition. The process takes years. Now, phase one is almost complete, 80 turbines are spinning in Mount Storm, West Virginia. Still, some local homeowners, like Bruce Halgren, are challenging the project in court.
Fossil fuels such as coal and oil are costly for consumers and the environment. Efforts are being made in Virginia to look into alternative sources of power, but it's not a breeze. Dr. Paxton Marshall, a professor of electrical engineering at UVA says wind may not be the most practical option in Virginia. "We don't have a continuous, strong, steady wind in most of Virginia. The exceptions are offshore or on the shore line in the chesepeake area." Marshall says the best option for offshore wind power in Virginia is in the Virginia Beach area.
Highland New Wind Development cannot yet offer Highland County a site plan for specific plans on the proposed industrial wind facility because the company is still negotiating with potential investors for the project. John Flora, lawyer for HNWD, provided an update to the Highland County Board of Supervisors this past Tuesday. ..."All I can say is that we are talking to folks from Europe, people on the West Coast and people in the East, and we are still working hard on narrowing the field and I am still pretty confident we will have something for you at your August meeting, but I said the last time I was here we hoped to have it tonight, and we don't."
"The 20 percent wind energy by 2030 report has been released," he said. "It represents a roadmap to a very bright future for the next generation in terms of energy supply, in terms of jobs, in terms of opportunities, and we know that when power presents risks I hope you all take away (from) this set of presentations that there are risks and I hope that you take away that we are seriously striving to manage those risks. ...This week, [Rick] Webb responded. "Miles establishes himself as the one who determines what the facts are. What he doesn't emphasize with the 20 percent by 2030 roadmap is that in Virginia 90 percent of wind resources are offshore," he told The Recorder Wednesday. "Electricity benefits are outweighed by the environmental and other costs of ridgeline development.
Wind can be strong or weak, consistent or unreliable, sufficient to support wind generation or not. It all depends on location. Local support for wind can also be strong or weak, consistent or unreliable, sufficient or insufficient to support wind generation. It, too, depends on location. About 200 people from across Virginia converged at JMU for the second annual VWEC symposium on wind energy and their interest in the industry was about the only thing they had in common. Most, but not all, supported wind power development. And not all those in favor were willing to accept wind energy unconditionally.
People in Shenandoah County had the opportunity to hear both sides of the wind turbine debate Tuesday night at a public forum. They turned out to learn more about what potential impacts, good and bad, the turbines would have. Impacts to land, wildlife, and the local economy are just a few of the considerations. ... After about two hours, people left with much to consider. "Both of them brought up good points," says Kelley. "And, it's just something that I think is going to take some time to absorb everything."
A community forum on the pros and cons of wind turbines along the Virginia-West Virginia border will be held tonight at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School in Woodstock. ...The discussion was triggered in March by a proposal by FreedomWorks LLC, a renewable-energy firm from Harpers Ferry, W.Va., to study the impact of constructing 130 440-foot wind turbines in George Washington National Forest, said Rosemary Wallinger, chairman of the Forum. Freedom Works requested the Federal Aviation Administration look into the plan. The FAA is one of the regulatory bodies involved in wind farm proposals. The proposal also would need the approval of the U.S. Forest Service.
When the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) issued a permit for the proposed Highland New Wind project in December 2007 it imposed stringent wildlife protection conditions and requirements for further review. The developer asserted that potential investors would lose interest because of the precedent-setting requirements to monitor and mitigate impacts to birds and bats. ... Now it appears that the project faces additional uncertainty as some of the agencies responsible for further review seem unclear about their respective roles in the continuing process.
In the area of fossil fuel emissions, emotions seem to have obliterated logic. Pollution control laws have brought about necessary changes, much like that of sewage control laws. Virginia and California are the only two states that must buy electricity from other states at the present time. Therefore, when the crunch of limited supply comes, as it will, these two states will be the first to suffer. The experts looking into alternate energy sources are coming up with dismal solutions.
Highland New Wind Development is stepping up its search for investors, with plans to attend some regional conferences and meetings with potential backers in the next couple of months. HNWD will need financial support for its proposed 39-megawatt wind energy utility, expected to cost upwards of $60 million to construct. The company also needs to secure several permits and other state and federal approvals before it can build.
Apparently hoping that a proposed agreement between the staff of the West Virginia Public Service Commission and Allegheny Energy would put a better face on the utility's proposed Trans-Allegheny Interstate Power Line project, the Hampshire County Commission received an e-mail request to reverse its opposition to the project. Commissioners Don Cookman, Steve Slonaker and Robert Hott, however, all agreed that would not happen.
Highland New Wind Development is making some progress in meeting permit conditions to build Virginia's first wind energy utility, but according to state officials, there's no state coordination for the process under one agency. In the last couple of months, Highland supervisor David Blanchard has pressed HNWD owner H.T. "Mac" McBride for more information on exactly what conditions it must meet, and with which agencies. McBride, thus far, has not provided those details to the county board. There are a number of permits the company needs, plus several other steps HNWD must take to meet requirements set forth by Highland County and the State Corporation Commission. Those include getting approvals for things as recommended by the state Department of Environmental Quality.
Two of the nation's largest energy companies have announced they will jointly develop wind farms in Virginia. ...So now the question to ask is are these companies considering coming to the Valley for these farms? A spokesperson says there's a good chance that a wind farm could be developed in the Valley because of the strength and consistency of the wind here. However, some say wind energy isn't the answer. Rick Webb, a Senior Scientist with the Department of Environmental Sciences at UVA, says, "I don't believe that wind turbine development on Appalachian ridges will make a serious contribution to solving our energy needs."
A company has applied to the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to build 131 wind turbines along 18 miles of ridge line between Virginia and West Virginia. The 440-foot turbines would tower above national forest land in Shenandoah, Rockingham and Hardy counties. If approved, work on the project could start as early as 2010. That, of course, is a pretty big if. As attractive as the concept is - letting wind generate electricity instead of air-polluting coal or expensive Middle Eastern oil - the wind farm proposal will almost certainly trigger a battle royal between corporate interests and valley residents.