Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from West Virginia
The West Virginia Public Service Commission has scheduled two public hearings on the proposed wind farm by AES for the Laurel Mountain ridgeline between Randolph and Barbour counties. ...‘‘The environmental community can't decide whether the green energy that is produced from windmills is more beneficial than the environmental damage that they cause with construction and the killing of bats and birds, etc.,'' [Sens. Clark] Barnes said. ‘‘The energy community is divided as to whether or not it's a viable source of energy. There is a lot of information - a tremendous amount of information on both sides - the pro and con for the environmental community and the pro and con for the energy community. One of the problems with wind energy is it does not create a constant source of energy being fed into the grid, so therefore at peak times, the hottest months of the year, there might not be any wind. It might not be stirring and there would be no benefit.''
Shenandoah Mountain is fit with high-quality breezes and a location near population centers, a necessary combination for wind farms such as the one being sought by a West Virginia firm, a wind expert said. ...Politicians will have their say, too, if the local project moves forward. Del. Todd Gil-bert, R-Woodstock, said his office would be making inquiries soon, but that more knowledge of wind energy is needed before he can form an opinion on it. "I'm one of the biggest proponents for trying to get off the dependence on oil," he said, "but the fact of the matter is, the most cost-efficient energy sources we have are traditional ones, not alternative ones."
I'd like to recommend some light reading for long winter nights to residents of Randolph and Barbour counties, especially those folks along Harrison Avenue on the west side of Elkins. Download the AES Laurel Mountain Wind Project application from the Public Service Commission and pick a chapter. You might have to wait for this 1,381-page document. And the PSC has made it nearly impossible to download its three 10.4, 67.3 and 110MB-sized volumes on a dial-up connection, which the majority of effected residents have. The chapter I read last evening deals with shadow flicker ...I recommend that private landowners along the eight-mile route of the proposed project go the PSC Web site and do a little reading. They also might want to let the PSC know their feelings. Tonight I'm going to tackle the chapter on bats.
Thursday evening, Elkins City Council formally voted against a proposed 125-Megawatt wind farm that would stretch across Laurel Mountain though Barbour and Randolph Counties. The vote will not play a direct role in determining the fate of the project. The West Virginia state Public Service Commission will have the final say on the issue, which will not be voted on for several months. None of the proposed wind turbines would be constructed in Elkins city limits. Residents attending Thursdays meeting say they support the council's opposition to the project.
Elkins City Council has set a special call meeting for 4 p.m. Thursday with plans of passing a resolution opposing the Laurel Mountain Wind Farm project proposed by AES. City officials said Tuesday that after checking with the West Virginia Ethics Commission, no public comment period will be required for the meeting. A resolution was on council’s March 4 agenda. However, that document was not prepared in time for a vote. During that meeting, West Virginia Green Energy Alliance representative Joel Martin gave an informational presentation which sparked more than two hours of discussion between his group and those opposed to the wind project.
On Jan. 31, The Recorder newspaper printed an interview that Judge Theodore "Ted" V. Morrison Jr. gave to Anne Adams, staff writer for the paper. He was one of three commissioners on Virginia's State Corporation Commission, which recently approved Virginia's first industrial wind project in Highland County over well-organized protests from residents and landowners. Morrison has been on the SCC for 19 years ...Morrison stressed the federal production tax credits are what make commercial wind facilities attractive, but the reality is the renewable electricity utilities will never substantially change the country's need for larger power plants.
Local governments in western Virginia are beginning to craft land-use regulations to give them tighter control over where wind turbines could be built, even as energy companies study the area's potential for large wind farms. Mountainous Bland and Bath counties are looking to develop ordinances governing wind turbines. Giles County, meanwhile, recently created a permit process that allows farmers and landowners to build and operate single turbines; but the permit process does not open the door wider for commercial wind farms. The permit process is similar to ones adopted by Pulaski and Rockingham counties. ...The prospect of more money did not persuade Patrick County officials to embrace wind farms. Last year, amid hue and cry from landowners after a Pennsylvania company's proposal to build 20 giant turbines several hundred feet high in Patrick, county supervisors adopted an ordinance banning structures of more than 100 feet high. The company dropped its proposal.
The debate over proposed windmills being placed in Randolph and Barbour counties came to the Elkins City Council meeting Thursday night. Although a proposed ordinance to express council's opposition to the AES' Laurel Mountain windmill farm project was on the agenda, council took no action. The resolution was not prepared for council to take a vote and a debate started within the crowd following a informational presentation by West Virginia Green Energy Alliance representative Joel Martin. "There has been a fairly focused campaign to distribute information that is not accurate," Martin said. "The project will not lead to a disaster on the mountains." ...Beckwith also asked Martin what affects the windmills would have on the ecology and environment. "I cannot guarantee that there will be no destruction," Martin responded.
The possibility of windmills being erected along the Randolph and Barbour County line could begin as early as 2009, if the application is approved by the West Virginia Public Service Commission, a spokesperson for AES said. Many groups, however, have been voicing opposition to the project, and most recently, Elkins City Council has decided to look at how the windmills may effect the local economy and future plans for development.
A Virginia company is seeking state approval for a proposed $250 million wind farm on the Barbour-Randolph county line. Arlington, Va.-based AES Corp. wants to build up to 65 turbines on a ridge top near Elkins that would connect to an existing Allegheny Energy. Inc. 138-kilovolt transmission line, according to a Jan. 31 filing with the state Public Service Commission. If local, state and federal regulators approve the project, AES said the turbines could begin transmitting electricity by the end of 2009.
The reception was somewhat on the chilly side, Tuesday, when a pair of mountaintop residents brought their protests about windpower electricity to the Grant County Commission. Residents Bruce Halgren and Richard Spicer appeared before commissioners as part of a campaign to reduced the number of windpowered turbines being erected in the community by NedPower and Shell Renewables and Hydrogen. The pair asked commissioners to oppose six turbines to be constructed within 820 feet of public roadways. They say the turbines present an "ice throw" hazard to motorists on Grassy Ridge Road and state Route 93.
The Grant County commissioners focused much of their attention at their recent public meeting on taking action to address the concerns of residents in the mountaintop region of the county related to road damage and threatened water resources. Commissioner Jim Cole said that the residents have had their patience pushed to the limit during the last few months. "Their water supply has been threatened by Wolf Run's application for a mining permit and they have had to wait hours with the roads blocked while equipment is transported to Grassy Ridge by NedPower/Shell WindEnergy," he said. The county commission has gone on record opposing the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection granting a permit to Wolf Run. However, the commissioners noted that they need to continue to do whatever else is necessary to ensure the residents have safe, potable drinking water.
The two big energy companies behind construction of a Grant County wind-power project say they want to expand it by more than half its size, even though a lawsuit challenging it is headed for trial. Dominion Resources Inc. and Shell Wind Energy Inc. announced on Tuesday that they intend to build 50 more turbines next year, generating 100 megawatts of power, on a mountaintop near Grassy Ridge.
A challenged $300 million wind farm proposed for a site in Grant County is a public utility immune from any lawsuit seeking to stop its construction, state Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin said. Benjamin disagreed with a majority opinion filed by the court to allow a lawsuit filed by a group of homeowners to proceed. The wind farm is to include 200 turbines spread over 10 miles. The Supreme Court's 4-1 decision overruled a Grant Circuit Court judge's dismissal of the lawsuit.
Despite an ongoing court challenge, developers expect to connect the NedPower Mount Storm wind farm to the state's power grid by this fall. NedPower's Dave Myers says turbines will begin producing power as they're hooked up one at a time come October. Right now, he says, developers are putting up 300-foot towers, installing equipment and doing other work on 82 turbines. Shipments of the turbine's 150-foot blades are expected to begin soon.
Liberty Gap Wind Force has decided not to ask the state Public Service Commission to reconsider its decision to deny a siting application for a wind turbine facility on Jack Mountain. Liberty Gap attorney Anthony P. Tokarz informed PSC Executive Secretary Sandra Squire on Thursday that the company would not file a petition for reconsideration. Tokarz did not make any other comment. Developers Have Options Frank Maisano, spokesman for a coalition of wind developers in West Virginia, said Liberty Gap still has two alternatives: to appeal to the state Supreme Court within 30 days or to refile the application. "That is still an option," Maisano said of the second choice.
Nedpower's continuing blundering puts them in strong contention as the World's Worst Wind Project. If it was not so sad it would be funny. Their grasp of a what a carbon neutral foot print is would make Al Gore cringe. Here's the easy "How to run a wind farm project like Nedpower" 20 point check list:
The latest findings are that three turbines located at the intersection of the Grass Ridge road and the local access road shown above are almost certainly within 800 ft of at least one residence. As shown in the map diagram above.
It isn’t over by a long shot, but residents of Pendleton County, W.Va., who banned together to argue against industrializing Jack Mountain have a lot to be proud of. In the course of nearly three years, the very grass roots group Friends of Beautiful Pendleton County gathered reams of research, raised thousands of dollars, and successfully made the point that Liberty Gap LLC and its parent company, U.S. Wind Force LLC, should not be allowed to ignore the potentially damaging effects their 50-megawatt wind utility could have on the environment and quality of life for residents here who have little to gain from the project — and much to lose.
In rejecting the application, the Commission cited specific deficiencies including (1) fundamental inadequacy of a required 5-mile radius map characterizing the surrounding area, (2) failure to address historical and cultural impacts, and (3) inadequate evidence regarding viewshed, noise and endangered bat species. The Order stated thatthese deficiencies alone provided sufficient grounds to reject the application. The Order also provided a long list of other areas where it was felt that the application was adequate.