Articles from West Virginia
Appalachian states lack strong and detailed guidelines to regulate the continued growth of wind power facilities along the Mid-Atlantic highlands, according to a new study by the National Academy of Sciences. A team of academy experts concluded that wind power can help offset the greenhouse emissions caused by coal and other fossil-fuel energy sources, but the projected growth of wind power in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania creates potential threats to bird and bat populations that are not fully understood, the academy study found. Windmill "farms" also can cause other environmental problems and create legitimate aesthetic concerns for local communities - ranging from damage to scenic vistas to noise and "shadow flicker," a strobe-like effect created by rotating turbines, the report found. "The United States is in the early stages of learning how to plan for and regulate wind-energy facilities," says the report, compiled by the National Academy's National Research Council. The report said the cumulative effects of continued growth in wind power are unclear, and that further study is needed.
Rep. Alan Mollohan is proving refreshingly thoughtful and farsighted on one of the emerging issues facing West Virginia - the pros and cons of wind power. He makes a persuasive case that the state should regulate its newest energy industry now. On Tuesday, the 1st District congressman told a congressional subcommittee he is very concerned about the impact wind farms could have on the wildlife and natural beauty of the state......Mollohan is right. It's time to slow this heavily subsidized stampede.
People who live near the planned Nedpower Mount Storm and Shell Energy wind farm in Grant County have sought to have it enjoined by having it declared a nuisance. The plaintiffs have previously lost in the Circuit Court of Grant County. In mid-April they argued an appeal of that decision to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Although most people would consider a "nuisance" to be mosquitoes, telemarketers, lawyers, or the like, in the eyes of the law a "nuisance" is a use of land that interferes with someone else's use and enjoyment of their land. It is what is called a common law cause of action.
WASHINGTON - An unusual coalition of conservationists and coal advocates told Congress on Tuesday that before the nation continues its rapid expansion of wind power, an assessment is needed of how many bats and birds are maimed and killed by wind turbines' blades. That study should be followed up with regulations to protect those species, witnesses told a House Natural Resources subcommittee.
Rep. Alan B. Mollohan, D-W.Va., told a House committee Tuesday about the dangers wind turbines in West Virginia and elsewhere pose to birds and bats. "In the past, West Virginia's natural resources were exploited without regard to the long-term environmental consequences, and I think it's imperative that this not be allowed to happen again," Mollohan told the House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans during Tuesday's hearing, the first congressional hearing on the impact of huge wind turbines on wildlife. Mollohan also spoke about the size of the wind projects on West Virginia's mountain ridges.
Washington, DC (HNN) -- U.S. Rep. Alan B. Mollohan, D-WV on Tuesday, May 1, 2007, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans Subcommittee on the impacts of wind turbines on birds and bats. Below is Mollohan's testimony:
he United States Department of Energy issued a proposal yesterday that could reopen the way for a 190-mile high-voltage transmission line through central New York that state and local officials tried to block last year. The department declared a multistate area from West Virginia to upstate New York a "National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor," where congestion of existing power lines makes the electricity grid unreliable and subject to blackouts.
Justice Benjamin said the Public Service Commission was "punting" its responsibilities in the permitting .......... We'd like to take the punting analogy one step further - not only did the PSC punt, it was a quick kick on third and long.
Wednesday's decision by the state Supreme Court to enter into Greenbrier County's windfarm debate was met, expectedly, with elation by opponents of the planned project and grim determination by its developers. Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy (MCRE) - the leading voice against the project - has spent about $50,000 in its efforts to stop 124 electric-producing wind turbines from being built in northern Greenbrier County. MCRE spokesman Dave Buhrman said Thursday he felt "encouraged" by the Supreme Court's decision to determine whether the Public Service Commission erred in giving Beech Ridge Energy a conditional building permit. Buhrman said the fight against the windfarm has been difficult, but worthwhile.
In a stunning reversal of fortune for anti-windfarm advocates, the state Supreme Court of Appeals on Wednesday unanimously agreed to hear two cases claiming the West Virginia Public Service Commission erred last fall in their decision to give the green light for building 124 electric-producing wind turbines in northern Greenbrier County. The decisions by Chief Justice Robin Davis, and Justices Larry V. Starcher, Elliott E. "Spike" Maynard, Joseph P. Albright, and Brent D. Benjamin were released late Wednesday by court information services director Jennifer Bundy. Mountain Communities For Responsible Energy (MCRE), along with Jeffrey and Alicia Eisenbeiss, filed the petitions asking the high court to hear why they disagree with the PSC ruling. The Eisenbeiss' filed "pro se" - without the aid of a lawyer.
Property values were at the center of a court case that pits homeowners against a planned $300 million wind farm in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle that one lawyer labeled a "brothel on top of the hill." The state Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case that pits a group of property owners against NedPower Mount Storm LLC and its owner, Shell Windenergy Inc. The companies want to build a 10 1/2-mile string of 200 wind turbines along a ridge top in Grant County. Residents claim the project would severely damage the value of their property. The companies argue the 330-foot-tall turbines will not only bring economic gain to the area, but the homeowners' concerns have already been dismissed by the state Public Service Commission.
While it takes most lawyers over seven years of hard work before being admitted to the West Virginia State Bar, don't tell that to real estate appraiser Jeffrey Eisenbeiss. While arguing against the proposed Greenbrier County windfarm in front of the state Supreme Court of Appeals on Monday, one justice mistook him for the real thing. Eisenbeiss and his wife Alicia filed as "intervenors" in 2005 with the Public Service Commission when Beech Ridge Energy announced plans to build their part of a $300 million electric-producing windfarm near their home in Renick. Some of the proposed 400-foot tall turbines fall within one mile of their front porch. The Eisenbiess' decided to file "pro se" - without the aid of a lawyer - despite having no legal background. "It's been a combined effort for the two of us," Jeffrey told The Register-Herald after his experience of being in front of the highest court in the state. "We have filed at least a half dozen legal documents."
Two anti-windfarm advocates will present oral arguments today to the state Supreme Court that their cases should be added to the high court's docket in hopes of stopping a planned $300 million project slated for northern Greenbrier County. Mountain Communities For Responsible Energy, along with Jeffrey and Alicia Eisenbeiss, filed the petitions after the state Public Service Commission's landmark decision last fall giving the green light to a wind energy developer's request to build 124 turbines along 23 miles of ridgeways owned primarily by MeadWestvaco.
The NedPower wind turbine project at Mount Storm is the first case that will be heard by the West Virginia Supreme Court on Tuesday as it convenes for the 2007 LAWS program.
American Electric Power announced it wants to enter long-term purchase agreements for 1,000 megawatts of wind energy, including up to 360 megawatts for its eastern United States service territory - where coal has traditionally been king. The utility giant said it wants to add the wind energy by 2011 as part of its strategy to address greenhouse gas emissions. On Tuesday the company issued a request for proposals seeking up to 260 megawatts of wind energy for its Appalachian Power unit. Appalachian serves more than 900,000 customers in southern West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee. The company also issued a request for proposals seeking up to 100 megawatts of wind energy for its Indiana Michigan Power unit. The deadline for bids is April 30, with delivery to begin by the end of 2008.
States with renewable portfolio standards have generated growth in the renewable energy sector, but many of the Appalachian states don't have one. Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New York all have some fairly progressive goals, but West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee don't have a state RPS and wind projects often ignite battles.
Opponents of a 200 turbine at Mount Storm, W.Va., will have their case heard by the state Supreme Court in April. The project was approved by the West Virginia Public Service Commission and a circuit court judge turned down a previous appeal by opponents to reverse the WVPSC decision, the Cumberland Times-News reported. NedPower, a Dutch company, received permits and has begun land clearing and early construction.
MOUNT STORM, W.Va. --- One of the largest wind farms proposed for the region is under construction along Grassy Ridge adjacent to the Dominion Power Plant at Mount Storm. With up to 200 turbines planned the project has been approved by the West Virginia Public Service Commission and received permits to begin construction. Work has been continuing at the site since early fall with land clearing and road construction. Foundations for the towers that will support the turbines are also under construction, according to Tim O'Leary, spokesman for the NedPower Mount Storm wind project. NedPower, a Dutch company, is the developer of the project.
What I would like to propose is that people of good will, who are concerned with our economy and the future of the environment, meet together to balance the needs of industry and the basic realities of environmental concerns. The state could set up a commission or panel of all interested groups in an effort to reach a compromise and then give expert advice to our Legislature.
More than four years later, despite still more proposals from developers, the 44 giant windmills at the Mountaineer site on Backbone Mountain remain the only wind towers in West Virginia, although work on the NedPower site began last fall. Why the delay? There are a host of reasons, but Billy Jack Gregg puts it simply: public opposition.