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Firm accused of violating Endangered Species Act

CUMBERLAND - Critics of the Nedpower wind farm project at Mount Storm in Grant County, W.Va., have alleged that the company is violating the federal Endangered Spe-cies Act as well as other environmental concerns. The company is the developer of a wind farm project that is expected to generate almost as much electricity as all the other wind farms in Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia combined.

The project is to occupy about 100 acres and include up to 200 turbines to generate 300 megawatts of power. It is adjacent to a 1,500-megawatt coal-fired plant owned by Dominion Power of Virginia.

NedPower announced last year that it wanted to design a bird, bat and endangered species-friendly wind farm, conducting studies at the site to support its efforts.

One critic who lives along Grassy Ridge Road where the project is being constructed, Jerome Burch, has accused the consultant hired by Nedpower to study the bird and bat issues of not being credible, “having been suspended from his job ... for academic dishonesty.”

Burch cites Tom Chapman of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as saying Nedpower's study missed “almost all of the spring raptor migration period and half of the fall migration period.” He said that Chapman also criticized the protocol used for the study.

Burch said that the conclusion of the report could be applied to other potential wind power sites in West Virginia and Maryland as well.

Richard Curry, the project developer for the Florida Power and Light wind farm at Garrett, Pa., said that the studies he has seen have basically determined two facts - that the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
The project is to occupy about 100 acres and include up to 200 turbines to generate 300 megawatts of power. It is adjacent to a 1,500-megawatt coal-fired plant owned by Dominion Power of Virginia.

NedPower announced last year that it wanted to design a bird, bat and endangered species-friendly wind farm, conducting studies at the site to support its efforts.

One critic who lives along Grassy Ridge Road where the project is being constructed, Jerome Burch, has accused the consultant hired by Nedpower to study the bird and bat issues of not being credible, “having been suspended from his job ... for academic dishonesty.”

Burch cites Tom Chapman of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as saying Nedpower's study missed “almost all of the spring raptor migration period and half of the fall migration period.” He said that Chapman also criticized the protocol used for the study.

Burch said that the conclusion of the report could be applied to other potential wind power sites in West Virginia and Maryland as well.

Richard Curry, the project developer for the Florida Power and Light wind farm at Garrett, Pa., said that the studies he has seen have basically determined two facts - that the night migrating birds fly well above the wind generators and there is virtually no impact on endangered species of birds from the wind farms.

“There was a problem in California where golden eagles were being killed because ground squirrels had chosen a wind farm for their habitat and that is one of the eagles' main sources of food,” he said, noting that even that study didn't indicate the species was endangered by the turbines.

The other fact, Curry said, is that bats still require additional study as it appears there may be an impact on subspecies of bats, from reports at the FPL wind farm in Tucker County, W.Va.

Erosion was another concern of a nearby nonresident property owner.
Grace Rotruck of Keyser said she was concerned about the grading and tree-cutting to lo-cate the concrete pads that will support the towers for the turbines.

Jerome Niessen of Nedpower said that as with any other construction project, the company would need a storm water permit from the state and to obtain that permit a control and mitigation plan must be submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection.

“Nedpower is working closely with DEP to keep any erosion to a minimum,” he said. The DEP has since issued the permit.

The criticism of wind as a renewable energy resource extends even to Congress as U.S. Rep. Alan Mollohan of West Virginia announced last year that he wanted a lot more study of wind power before more projects are built in the state.

“There is nothing more beautiful than my West Virginia hills and I don't need windmills to re-landscape God's glory and my West Virginia hills,” he said, referring to the scenic views of the Potomac Highlands. About the same time, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee announced his opposition to federal incentives to support wind power and renewable energy that include a federal production tax credit and a bill that would require utilities to produce a growing percentage of their energy from renewable sources by a predetermined year.

Alexander said he preferred to see tax incentives for other fossil fuels exploration and development.

Allen Staggers, a spokesman for Allegheny Energy, said the company has no plans to enter into wind generation.

Allegheny Energy owns and operates all or part of 19 power stations using coal, oil and water as fuel and serves a 29,000 square-mile area, covering 3 million people in five states.

He said the company has no problem interconnecting its facilities with wind farms.

Staggers said he is aware that several states in the East have taken steps to ensure that companies that distribute energy, such as Allegheny, will be required to buy a percentage of their electricity for distribution from renewable sources.

He said he wouldn't be surprised to see that expand in the foreseeable future.

Source: http://www.times-news.com/a...

FEB 8 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/1242-firm-accused-of-violating-endangered-species-act
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