Documents from Virginia
The Virginia State Corporation Commission issued this order approving Dominion's proposal to construct a 2-turbine, 12 megawatt wind energy facility 27-miles off the coast of Virginia. The project has a price tag of $300 million. The SCC made clear in its order that it had no choice but to approve the project given current state statutes. However, the approval, according to the SCC's order, was contrary to what it deemed prudent as that term has been applied by this Commission in its long history of public utility regulation. The SCC bowed to the legislative mandate by approving the project. A portion of the order is posted below. The full order can be accessed by clicking the links on this page.
Concerned citizens and conservationists have joined with the Animal Welfare Institute and the public-interest law firm, Meyer Glitzenstein and Crystal, to notify Highland New Wind Development, LLC and the Highland County Board of Supervisors of their intent to sue if HNWD proceeds with turbine construction in defiance of the Endangered Species Act. Earlier this year HNWD "promised" the county supervisors that it would obtain the required Incidental Take Permit (ITP). The notice letter can be downloaded by clicking on the link(s) at the bottom of this page.
Wood Rogers PLC, the Roanoke law firm representing Highland Citizens, has advised the Highland County Board of Supervisors that allowing Highland New Wind Development to proceed without the Incidental Take Permit (ITP) required by the Endangered Species Act will place the county in legal jeopardy. The letter by Attorney James T. Rodier which details the supporting law can be accessed by clicking on the link(s) at the bottom of this page.
Freedomworks submitted a proposal for erect three meteorological towers on North Mountain in the George Washington National Forest. The request was in in early December, however the company's plans were known for about one year ago. The forest supervisor, Maureen Hyzer denied the request in this April 2 letter. Reasons for the denial were that the request did not comply with the forest management plan and there was no rationale specified for why the use of national forest land was necessary. The complete memo can be downloaded by clicking on the link below.
This brochure provides a quick, but informative, summary of the key issues pertaining to wind energy development in Virginia and the Appalachian region. The document can serve as a start point for others preparing similar information materials for their community. Click on the link(s) at the bottom of this page to view the final layout including photos.
The VA SCC issued its final order that conditionally approves the Highland New Wind Development, LLC application to construct and operate a wind energy generating facility in Highland County, Virginia, near the West Virginia border. The proposed facility would consist of up to twenty (20) wind turbines of up to 2.00 MW capacity each. The order included comprehensive monitoring and mitigation for wildlife impacts (bird and bat) and could serve as a model for other projects. One of the commissioners dissented on a provision in the monitoring and mitigation plan.
The public version of this filing can be downloaded below.
This important peer-reviewed paper written by bat expert Dr. Thomas H. Kunz et al identifies the significant risk wind turbines pose for migratory and local bat populations in the mid-Atlantic Highlands region of the United States. The projected number of annual fatalities of bats at wind energy facilities in the Highlands in the year 2020 can reach up to 111,000 bats.
This document includes studies in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.
Rick Webb's presentation on October 17 at the Energy Virginia conference provides a thought provoking analysis of the costs and benefits of industrial wind energy.
To reiterate, if the SCC chooses to license this project, we request adherence to the monitoring and mitigation recommendations described in this letter and attachments. In the absence of such conditions, we feel this project would pose an unacceptable risk to the Commonwealth’s wildlife resources.
Q. Please state your name and position. A. My name is Charles Simmons and I have been retained to provide assistance to Highland Citizens in regard to the application of Highland New Wind Development, LLC to construct a wind generation facility in Highland County. Editor's Note:This testimony provides an excellent description of how a grid works- particularly the role of 'economic dispatch' and 'spinning reserves'. It also addresses the methodology for estimating emissions savings and numerous other topics of interest.
Virginia Wind (Dan Boone & Rick Webb) has submitted the attached comments (selected extracts appear below) to the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) in response to material filed by and on behalf of Highland New Wind Development (HNWD) purporting to quantify air pollution emission reductions that the Highland County wind project would achieve. The HNWD submission to the SCC responds to a request from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for a "backdown study" to determine potential emissions displacement by identification of electrical generators that will reduce output in response to the HNWD wind project. The HNWD submission to the SCC makes the extreme and unusual claim that emissions displaced by the proposed HNWD project would be entirely from coal-fueled electrical generating units rather than from a mix of generator types, including the cleaner quick-start units that are generally higher on the economic dispatch order. The HNWD claim is based on material submitted by Alden Hathaway and Deborah Jacobsen, who are affiliated with the state-supported Virginia Wind Energy Collaborative. Their arguments largely rely on an appended report by the consulting firm Resource Systems Group (RSG), which, in turn, supports its conclusions with summaries of confidential data that are not available to the SCC, the DEQ, or the public. The RSG report claims similar benefits for proposed wind energy projects in Virginia's Roanoke and Patrick Counties. Virginia Wind contends that uncritical acceptance of claims and analysis regarding unverifiable benefits would be well outside the norm for either scientific debate or public policy deliberations, especially in a contested case such as this. Virginia Wind has accordingly requested that the SCC and the DEQ defer any consideration of HNWD's "backdown" study until all of the data that underlie the analysis, including detailed wind power data for the actual project site, are provided and made available for public and agency review. Virginia Wind has also requested an opportunity to provide additional comments once the data necessary for informed review are provided.
These comments concern the application of Highland New Wind Development, LLC for a certificate to construct and operate a generating facility in Highland County. They are submitted on behalf of Virginia Wind, a not-for-profit organization addressing the need for effective environmental assessment prior to utility-scale wind development in the western Virginia and central Appalachian region.3 We submit to the Commission that the proposed Highland New Wind Development (HNWD) project presents a risk of unacceptable environmental harm and that the potential benefits of the project are minimal.
This study focused on nocturnal migration patterns and flight behaviors during the peak periods of passerine and bat migration during fall 2005 at the proposed Highland New Wind Development in Highland Count. Virginia. The key results of our study were: (I) the mean overall fall passage rate was 385 targetsikmh; (2)mean nightly passage rates ranged from 9 to 2,762 targetshh, (3) the percentage of targets passing below 125 m agl was 11.5%; (4) the estimated turbine passage rate of nocturnal migrants passing within the airspace occupied by each proposed turbine was 3.4-24.7 migrantslturbineid during the fall study period; (5) fall migrants flying at or below maximal turbine height consisted of 88% birds and 12% bats; and (6) passage rates, flight altitudes, and visual observation rates of birds and bats did not differ between the two survey sites within the project area.
A Virginia Tech research center has concluded that more study is needed to determine a prudent plan for using so-called “green energy” in Virginia. A study was commissioned by Virginia Commission for Electric Utility Restructuring as the result of a series of meetings last year among renewable energy industry officials, lawmakers, state agencies, and environmental groups.
This flow chart, that accompanied Anne Adams' 'news' item 'Putting the Spin on Wind' (11/18/05) represents an initial effort to show the interconnections/collusion between the different entities working to promote wind development in Virginia.
A Landscape Classification System report, maps and GIS files is now available as an aide to "environmentally responsible siting of utility-scale wind projects in Virgina." The report and associated materials was a collaborative product of Dan Boone, Judy Dunscomb, Rick Webb and Christina Wulf, who worked on this project on behalf of The Nature Conservancy, Virginia Society of Ornithology and Virginia Forest Watch. Rick Webb and Dan Boone have created a website - www.VAwind.org - to disseminate this report and related information. They "are guided by the Precautionary Principal, wherein if we have reasonable suspicion of harm, accompanied by scientific uncertainty, then we all have a duty to take action to prevent harm." They "remain hopeful that the wind industry will embrace the principle of precaution and stand as a role-model for other industries by taking strong and proactive steps to prevent environmental harm" and "intend to continue work on the Landscape Classification System and to promote effective assessment of environmental issues related to wind energy development."
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.