Documents from West Virginia
The AES Laurel Mountain wind energy facility consists of 61 GE 1.6 MW turbines (97.6 MW) and a 32 MW Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). On October 2 and 3, 2011, fog and a low cloud ceiling resulted in migrating songbirds becoming trapped in the light of the battery complex. A total of 483 birds were destroyed as a result of colliding with the battery system and wires. AES Laurel Mountain LLC was sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Aloi to pay $30,000 in fines after pleading guilty to two federal charges related to the deaths, a crime under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). A portion of the filing is provided below. The full record can be accessed by downloading the documents attached to this page.
The memo, prepared by a West Virginia Public Service Commission staff attorney, recommends the PSC investigate the noise complaints filed at the Pinnacle wind energy facility. Pinnacle Wind LLC has asked that the complaint be dismissed.
AES' Laurel Mountain wind energy facility in West Virginia experienced significant bird mortality over the weekend of October 1, 2011. Nearly 500 birds were reportedly killed after lights were left on at the electrical substation associated with the wind project. The deaths occurred due to collisions with the substation and apparent exhaustion as birds caught in the light's glare circled in mass confusion. The incident report of what happened can be accessed by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.
An agreement was reached among all parties involved in federal litigation under the Endangered Species Act concerning the Beech Ridge wind project in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, that will provide for additional protection of the endangered Indiana bat and other wildlife while allowing some elements of the project to move forward.
Federal district court Judge Roger Titus of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland issued a comprehensive ruling that an industrial wind energy facility in Greenbrier County, West Virginia will kill and injure endangered Indiana bats, in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The court concluded that “the development of wind energy can and should be encouraged, but wind turbines must be good neighbors.” This is the first federal court ruling in the country finding a wind power project in violation of federal environmental law. Judge Titus' opinion and order on this matter can be downloaded by clicking the links at the bottom of this page.
After consulting with the American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) of the National Park Service regarding the documented boundary of Camp Allegheny Battlefield, Kathleen Kilpatrick, Director of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR), drafted a letter to John Flora, attorney for Highland New Wind Development (HNWD), on November 17.
US Fish and Wildlife Service, Wet Virginia field office, issued these comments regarding the Pinnacle wind power project proposed for ridgelines in Mineral County, WV. The comments pertain to the Habitat Characterization and Assessment of Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Species for the Pinnacle Wind Farm (BHE Environmental 2009a); the Avian Risk Assessment for the Pinnacle Wind Power Project (Kerlinger 2009); and the Bat Risk Assessment: Pinnacle Wind Farm (BHE Environmental 2009b). Excerpts of the letter are provided below. The full report can be accessed by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page.
The Animal Welfare Institute, Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy, and others submitted this pretrial brief and supporting reply briefs in their law suit opposing the Beech Ridge wind energy facility to be located in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. These briefs show that the developer, Beech Ridge Energy LLC, discovered the presence of the federally endangered Indiana Bat at the project site but withheld this information from federal and state authorities. With this information hidden from public inspection, the project was granted a siting certificate from the West Virginia Public Service Commission to construct up to 124 wind turbines, each 390 feet tall, along a twenty-three mile stretch of land on forested Allegheny Mountain ridgelines. Construction commence in early 2009 but a subsequent injunction request was filed by the plaintiffs and granted pending the outcome of this law suit. The pre-trial brief and reply briefs by renown bat experts Drs. Lynn Robbins, Michael Gannon and Thomas Kunz can be accessed by clicking on the links below. The introduction to the reply brief is also posted below. The trial is scheduled from October 21 before the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.
The Animal Welfare Institute, Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy and David G. Cowan have filed a law suit against Beech Ridge Energy LLC and Invenergy Wind LLC under the federal Endangered Species Act ("ESA"). This filing seeks preliminary injunction to halt further construction, turbine erection, and operation of the Beech Ridge industrial wind power project. The plaintiffs argue that the project, if constructed, will result in the "likely killing, injury, and other forms of "take" of endangered Indiana bats in violation of the ESA." The wind project is proposed to be located on ridgelines in Greenbrier County, West Virginia.
At a session of the PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OF WEST VIRGINIA in the City of Charleston on the 26th day of November, 2008. CASE NO. 08-0109-E-CS AES Laurel Mountain, LLC, a limited liability company, Arlington, Virginia. Application for a siting certificate to authorize the construction and operation of a wholesale electric generating facility in Barbour and Randolph Counties, West Virginia. The full order can be downloaded by clicking on the web link at the bottom of this page.
Tom Hewson of Energy Ventures Analysis, Inc. ("EVA") was hired by the citizen's group, Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy, to evaluate a Decommissioning Cost Report prepared for the Beech Ridge Energy Project - a 124-turbine project proposed for Greenbrier County, West Virginia. His summary below provides insight into what communities and permitting agencies should be looking for when evaluating decommissioning plans. Mr. Hewson's memo on decommissioning of the Beech Ridge wind facility, which was included in the public record before the West Virginia Public Service Commission on the project, can be accessed by clicking on the link below.
This document provides before and after aerial photos of the very southern end of the NedPower wind facility, the most recently constructed wind energy facility in the mid-Atlantic region. The project is comprised of 132 2-MW Gamesa wind turbines, each nearly 400 feet tall. Extensive clearing of forest was done to install the turbines and other project infrastructure. The average width of the area bulldozed for road corridor varies from about 75 to 100 feet.
This important letter by Rep. Mollohan (D-WV) to the WV division of energy, comments on the agency's proposed State energy plan as it pertains to industrial wind energy development.
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.
By the reasons set forth in this order of Jun 22, 2007, the West Virginia Pubic Service Commission refused to issue a siting certificate to Liberty Gap Wind Force, LLC (Liberty Gap) to construct a wind turbine electric generating facility (Project) in Pendleton County, West Virginia. The applicant, US Wind Force, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, had proposed constructing up to 50 wind turbines. The total output of the project would be up to 125 megawatts.
This WV Supreme Court decision decided in June 2007 provides a concise argument pertaining to nuisance issues (noise, flicker, strobing) and hazards as they relate to wind energy facilities built near residences. The background of the case and the court's conclusion are listed below. The full decision, including the discussion of nuisance issues and hazards, can be downloaded by clicking on the link. The court references substantial case law to support its decision.
Excerpts below are from the May 16, 2007 Proposed Order of WV PSC denying Liberty Gap's application for CPCN (siting permit) for 50 wind turbine project atop Jack Mtn in Pendleton County:
This document includes studies in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.
WV's Congressman Mollohan submitted a letter on July 26, 2006 to the WV Public Service Commission (PSC) concerning the Beech Ridge wind energy project proposed for Greenbrier County, WV by Chicago-based Invenergy, Inc. This wind energy developer successfully pushed through a windplant in Wisconsin nearby the Horicon Marsh - a globally-significant wildlife area and National Wildlife Refuge - despite the widespread outcry by national and local wildlife groups who opposed such close siting. Mollohan's letter points out that Invenergy disregarded recommendations by the US Fish and Wildlife Service for multi-year pre-construction studies regarding the project's potential impacts on migratory birds and bats. He also observed that although WV's one operating wind project in Tucker County has been the site of record-setting bat mortality due to collision with turbine blades, the project operator (FPL Energy) has cut off access to the site for scientific study or investigation, even by the National Research Council/National Academies committee charged by the U.S. Congress to study the environmental impacts of wind projects in the Mid-Atlantic Highlands (see footnote #2 in his letter).