Articles from West Virginia
Rep. Alan Mollohan says he wants the state Public Service Commission to look more carefully into the potential environmental impact of windmills proposed by companies like NedPower Mount Storm and Shell WindEnergy Inc. “The whole issue of industrial windmill siting is an important public policy question,” said Mollohan, D-W.Va., on Friday. “It cries out for public debate and legislative action to put some real siting criteria into place.”
Governor Joe Manchin says his new wind energy bill is all about that industry paying its fair share to the state. The bill was introduced in the state Senate Friday and Manchin discussed the bill with MetroNews Monday. Manchin says, “If we are going to grow the state the way we need to it has to be a fair level playing field.” The bill would nearly eliminate the salvage rate the wind farm owners currently pay in property taxes and instead they would pay regular property tax rates. They would also be required to pay B&O Taxes like other power producing facilities. The wind farm owners could earn tax credits by investing in local community projects.
Legislation (HB2818/SB441) from Manchin introduced today would increase the amount of taxable electricity generated by wind turbines from five percent to 12 percent of capacity. The proposal would also credit wind farms for any money or land they agree to donate to local governments or schools. But only agreements reached before this year would be eligible for credits under the bill. Administration officials say the bill responds to concerns about this new energy industry paying its fair share in West Virginia. West Virginia has one wind farm, a 44-tower complex in Tucker County. But several more have been proposed, including one in nearby Grant County where developers want to plant 200 turbines.
Friddle and Staggers presented the group with a PowerPoint presentation on the proposed Interstate transmission line, known as the Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line (TrAIL). The new transmission line will be 240 miles and will be 500 kilovolts. The line should run from southwestern Pennsylvania to West Virginia, then to Northern Virginia. The proposed cost for the project is estimated to be $1.4 billion. According to Friddle, the new transmission line is needed so that the supply of electricity meets the demand for electricity. “Without this project, it's determined that by 2011 there will be 12 electrical problems with possible blackouts and brownouts,” Friddle said.
Edison Mission Group and a private Pennsylvania-based wind farm developer said they have agreed to develop up to 1,000 megawatts of mostly onshore wind energy throughout the U.S. mid-Atlantic. Edison Mission, which manages the power business of Edison International, made the agreement with US Wind Force LLC to develop wind farms over the next several years that would feed PJM power grid that includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia and parts of North Carolina.
The state Public Service Commission rejects four appeals against a proposed wind farm in Greenbrier County. The Chicago-based company hopes to start construction this year on a the 300 (m) million-dollar project. Invenergy plans to build the 124-turbine Beech Ridge Energy wind farm in northern Greenbrier County.
Saying that wind is renewable energy and that placing wind turbines on our mountains will solve global warming and also our energy problems is a wonderful thought. But in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
It’s called the Allegheny Plateau, a wide span of ridges stretching across west-central Pennsylvania and then south into West Virginia. The wind patterns and terrain characteristics of the plateau make it the primary reason why Cambria and Somerset counties soon will be home to more than 500 new windmills during the next few years, with predictions of more on the horizon. That number is in addition to the 34 existing turbines in Somerset County and includes the 90 proposed for the Allegheny Ridge.
A Virginia energy giant has bought a 50 percent stake in a Grant County wind turbine project that is the subject of a case before the state Supreme Court. Dominion, one of the nation’s largest energy producers, announced Monday it plans to develop the first phase of a 200-turbine wind farm near Mount Storm, a project that some residents are trying to block. In a news release, Dominion said the $300 million project gives the Virginia company an opportunity to increase its renewable energy portfolio.
A Richmond-based energy company has bought a 50 percent stake in a wind turbine project in Grant County, West Virginia that residents are seeking to block. Dominion, one of the country’s largest energy producers, announced today it plans to develop the first phase of the 300 (m) million-dollar project, to be located near the company’s coal-fired energy plant at Mount Storm.
After being twice urged to do so by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Liberty Gap LLC has volunteered to seek a permit for the incidental “take” of endangered species. In doing so, the company has asked the West Virginia Public Service Commission not to consider its proposed wind energy project’s impacts on other wildlife. But PSC staff has urged the commission to deny that request.
The Grant County Board of Education has once again reaffirmed its support for a controversial mountaintop wind power project. BOE members recently agreed to submit a legal document in defense of the project, which is being challenged in court by some of its detractors. Known as a “brief,” the document will be filed with the state Public Service Commission and Supreme Court of Appeals. The brief was approved on a 5-0 vote during the BOE’s recent meeting at the Union Educational Complex. Action came after a presentation by Dennis DiBenedetto, prosecuting attorney. DiBenedetto told board members the brief won’t cost them anything and will largely restate arguments in favor of the project already made by the BOE. Some of these arguments include a welcome for $45 million in tax revenues to be gained over the project’s lifespan.
Those headed to West Virginia’s capital city this week for hearings on the Liberty Gap wind utility proposal came home early. The state’s Public Service Commission was set to begin evidentiary hearings Tuesday morning on Liberty Gap LLC’s request for a permit to build a 50-megawatt wind energy facility on Jack Mountain in Pendleton County. But at the last minute, the company realized it had not published public notices about the hearings as required by the PSC. When it realized the error, Liberty Gap asked the PSC to postpone the hearings 30 days, and move the statutory deadline for the PSC’s final decision back 30 days as well. The PSC denied that motion, and cancelled the evidentiary portion of the hearings, though it did receive limited public comment on the project Tuesday, and agreed to hear argument from all parties involved about how to proceed.
It will be another seven months before residents in Pendleton County will know if wind turbines will be built on Jack Mountain. Tension between both sides is growing.
Both sides of the Pendleton County West Virginia wind turbine dispute remain unsettled. The agency who will make the final decision on the project. The Public Service Commission, has delayed an evidentiary hearing until April because Liberty Gap Wind Force, failed to properly advertise for yesterday’s public hearing.
The state Supreme Court has unanimously agreed to consider a case involving the development of a 200-turbine wind farm near Mount Storm. The five justices voted Wednesday to consider residents’ appeal of a Grant County Circuit Court ruling that dismissed their attempt to halt construction of the $300 million project. Residents say the project would be a nuisance and would ruin property values.
“All necessary permits have been granted for the project and NedPower Mount Storm LLC has certified to the West Virginia Public Service Commission that all of the certificate’s requirements necessary for construction have been met,” said Tim O’Leary, spokesman for Shell WindEnergy, which will operate the NedPower wind electric-generating turbine farm at Mount Storm.
Despite the continued emergence of the technology, business services and tourism industries, coal mining and manufacturing are still very important to West Virginia’s economy. Coal remains a viable and important energy source. In fact, this state contains an estimated 50 billion tons of coal reserves.
But Manchin's proposal went a step beyond talk and ideas, setting out a concrete way to begin attracting more money to development of ethanol, biodiesel, solar, wind or biomass electricity generation. “I've always been told the $35, $40 range (per barrel of oil) is where alternative fuels become viable” Manchin told The News-Record after a tour of Arch Coal's Black Thunder mine. “Let's find that benchmark ... I don't see another way.”
The Public Service Commission’s Aug. 28 ruling permitting 124 industrial wind turbines in Greenbrier County drew a quick response from MCRE (Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy). MCRE spokesman Dave Buhrman said, “We concur with wind opponent Jon Boone who states, ‘Industrial wind is a distraction issue—distracting from the heavy lifting required for meaningful change in our energy practices.’”