Library from West Virginia
And turbines are still something of a novelty for most of us, so the "not in my backyard" mentality hasn't yet set in when it comes to wind farms. In fact, as we reported in the Energy Journal, groups of ranchers in eastern Wyoming -- seeing an opportunity to make some money without significantly disrupting their ag operations -- have banded together to market their properties to wind energy developers. That, of course, could change. As turbines begin to spring up in more sensitive, pristine spots, or closer to residential areas, the novelty could wear off quickly.
The process to determine if AES will be given permission to place a wind farm on a Laurel Mountain ridge between Randolph and Barbour counties is one step closer to being completed as the West Virginia Public Service Commission conducted evidentiary hearings Monday through Wednesday. "The attorneys representing both sides presented their cases and called witnesses," PSC spokesperson Sarah Robertson said. ...According to Robertson, the PSC expects to make a decision on Nov. 26.
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.
Wind power developer Beech Ridge Energy caught a break it didn't deserve when the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals approved its plan to build tall turbines on ridges in Greenbrier County, said Justice Larry Starcher. In a July 17 dissent he claimed the court improperly allowed Beech Ridge Energy to provide vital information after the Public Service Commission approved its plan.
Justice Larry Starcher, who cast the lone dissenting vote in last month's landmark windfarm 4-1 decision, believes Greenbrier County property owners are getting the shaft in regard to the $300 million Beech Ridge Energy Windfarm. Starcher issued his two-page dissenting opinion last Tuesday and chided his colleagues for voting in favor of upholding two Public Service Commission decisions which gave Chicago-based Invenergy, the parent company of Beech Ridge, the green light to build over 100 wind turbines on forested ridges in northern Greenbrier County. ...Starcher said the case should have been "remanded to the Commission for further study," and he would have required Beech Ridge to "produce all of the legally required information about the impact of wind turbines on the neighboring property and aesthetic values."
Cookman and Friend explained that U.S. Windforce develops the wind farms, secures the land, obtains the rights of way and leases and applies for all the necessary permits, while Edison Emission Energy will actually acquire the turbines, have them assembled and operate the project. According to Cookman, U.S. Windforce is currently scheduled to make application for their permit from the West Virginia Public Service Commission in September. They should then have permit in hand, he said, by May 2009. With a possible groundbreaking in July 2009, he said operation could begin as early as May 2010.
West Virginia has a second wind-energy project up and running. NedPower Mount Storm LLC's turbines are generating electricity along the Allegheny Front in Grant County. Developers of the 264-megawatt project confirmed the project's status in response to reports from local residents that turbines appeared to be operating. ... Neddenien at first declined to confirm that information, and later refused to provide any details about how many turbines were operating. "The number of units operating on any given day changes, given wind conditions, and the amount of energy generated also changes," Neddenien said.
On May 8th 2007, eleven citizens' groups filed a Sixty Day Notice of Intent to Sue regarding the company NedPower Mt. Storm, and its corporate owners Dominion Resources, and Shell Wind Energy. The Notice alleges violations of the Endangered Species Act, involving the West Virginia northern flying squirrel, the Indiana bat, and the Virginia big-eared bat. The Notice also raises concerns about impacts to bald and golden eagles and migrating birds that are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Marty has been studying the life cycle of the timber rattlesnake for 25 years. He regularly visits several dens that have been in existence on the Allegheny Front for thousands of years -- to check on the emergence of snakes in the spring. Marty had been concerned about the possible disruption of the snake dens by the construction of the Ned-Power Industrial Wind Turbines, but he was assured that the dens, located in rock piles, with crevasses going into the earth, would not be disturbed. When Marty returned to his study site this Spring, this is what he found: "It is finished. There is nothing left to save.
Well now you have gotten over the shock value of living next to an industrial wind turbine, maybe you are ready for more technology in your life? How about microwave towers for cell phone communications or emergency response teams or high definition TV and radio? Why not? Your once rural area is now an industrial park anyway, so what does a few more poles and towers matter now? And remember your driveway and small country road? Well it's now been widened and graded and 50' wide access roads carved away from it to provide clearways for giant tractor trailers. And the deer you used to enjoy so close to your home? Gone ...So what was your life once like back in those tranquil old days before your property area became an industrial wind energy site?
On May 8th 2007, eleven citizens' groups filed a Sixty Day Notice of Intent to Sue regarding the company NedPower Mt. Storm, and its corporate owners Dominion Resources, and Shell Wind Energy. The Notice alleges violations of the Endangered Species Act, involving the West Virginia northern flying squirrel, the Indiana bat, and the Virginia big-eared bat. The Notice also raises concerns about impacts to bald and golden eagles and migrating birds that are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The citizens' groups are demanding that the industrial wind corporation apply for an incidental take permit, and modify or stop construction of this project, before irreparable harm is done to West Virginia's natural heritage.
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.
The state Supreme Court Monday denied the efforts of state and local anti-windfarm activists and upheld two decisions by the Public Service Commission that granted a conditional building permit in 2006 for a $300 million Greenbrier County windfarm. The court's landmark decision, the first to test the PSC's new siting certificate regulations, largely focused on the PSC's jurisdiction to grant the permit and could significantly impact the future of wind energy in West Virginia. During oral argument before the high court in January, Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy and Alicia and Jeffrey Eisenbeiss argued the PSC improperly granted the permit to Chicago-based Invenergy and its Beech Ridge windfarm.
The state Public Service Commission acted properly when it approved a proposal to build 124 giant wind-power turbines along 23 miles of Greenbrier County ridges, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday. Justices issued a unanimous, unsigned opinion that turned down challenges of the PSC decision filed by opponents of the $300 million Beech Ridge Energy LLC project. "We believe that the commission did not ignore or revise its rules, nor did the commission improperly interpret an unambiguous regulation," the court said in its 39-page ruling.
Plans to build a 124-turbine wind farm on a West Virginia ridgeline won critical support Monday from the state Supreme Court, which upheld a conditional permit already approved by the state Public Service Commission. The justices ruled Monday in support of the permit, after hearing arguments in January on the $300 million proposal by Beech Ridge Energy LLC. ... A group of local residents calling itself the Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy, along with Jeffrey and Alicia Eisenbeiss of Renick, challenged the permit. They charged, in part, that the PSC's application permit didn't include input from opponents on such matters as the area's cultural and historical importance.
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.
The prospect of thousands of endangered bats flying to their deaths in West Virginia wind turbines soon could get consideration in federal court because of Judy Rodd. The 63-year-old is the president of Friends of Blackwater Canyon, which recently joined 10 other groups in filing a "notice of intent" with the Fish and Wildlife Service to sue a wind company on Endangered Species Act grounds. The organizations warned of potential turbine kills of the Indiana bat, Virginia big-eared bat and Virginia northern flying squirrel. "Yes, we're concerned about climate change," said Rodd in a phone interview. "But that doesn't mean they can't build the turbines somewhere else and let the bats live."
The concern over mountaintop mining is one that most people share. Extracting coal is dangerous, transporting coal is hard on the roads, and burning the coal to turn the turbines that generate the electricity is never going to be without some sort of air pollution. However, wind power predates coal, and wind is still far from a practical and reliable source of energy. If wind power were cheaper, electric companies would switch to it in a New York minute. Companies seek to keep costs down, and profits up. If Appalachian Power could replace its John Amos plant with a few windmills, it would. One problem is reliability. The wind is not constant on Earth. The dog days of summer could stop the wind, just as air conditioners are clicking into overdrive.
Wind farming or strip mining? Which energy extraction method should be used on Coal River Mountain? Residents of Clear Fork, Marsh Fork and other Raleigh County areas, with the support of environmental and community organizations such as Coal River Mountain Watch, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Appalachian Voices and the Sierra Club, asked the Raleigh County Commission Tuesday to support a proposed wind farm, which they say offers more long-term economic, social and environmental benefits to the county.