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Huge industrial windmills on ridge tops a bad idea

In 1983, Sugar Top Condos were built on the top of Sugar Mountain in Avery County. Sugar Top Condos rise 131 feet above the ridgeline and can be seen for several miles. These towering condos were so devastating to the scenic splendor of the mountains that the General Assembly wisely enacted strict ridge top laws to stop these monstrosities from appearing throughout our mountains. While the statewide law was too late for Sugar Mountain, the law stopped similar projects of shocking heights and destruction of the mountains. Sugar Top Condos is a permanent reminder that once a structure is built on our mountain tops, we cannot unbuild it.

We are blessed in Western N.C. with breathtaking views of layer upon layer of Appalachian ridge tops. In 1983, Sugar Top Condos were built on the top of Sugar Mountain in Avery County. Sugar Top Condos rise 131 feet above the ridgeline and can be seen for several miles. These towering condos were so devastating to the scenic splendor of the mountains that the General Assembly wisely enacted strict ridge top laws to stop these monstrosities from appearing throughout our mountains. While the statewide law was too late for Sugar Mountain, the law stopped similar projects of shocking heights and destruction of the mountains. Sugar Top Condos is a permanent reminder that once a structure is built on our mountain tops, we cannot unbuild it.

Our General Assembly has been debating the possibility of large-scale development of a different kind on our ridge tops - industrial wind turbins. The impetus for the debate is whether the 1983 ridge top law should be amended to permit industrial-sized wind farms on top of the mountains. All research indicates that the best place for wind farms are on the highest ridge tops at the highest elevations available. The best type of turbine to harness the wind and... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

We are blessed in Western N.C. with breathtaking views of layer upon layer of Appalachian ridge tops. In 1983, Sugar Top Condos were built on the top of Sugar Mountain in Avery County. Sugar Top Condos rise 131 feet above the ridgeline and can be seen for several miles. These towering condos were so devastating to the scenic splendor of the mountains that the General Assembly wisely enacted strict ridge top laws to stop these monstrosities from appearing throughout our mountains. While the statewide law was too late for Sugar Mountain, the law stopped similar projects of shocking heights and destruction of the mountains. Sugar Top Condos is a permanent reminder that once a structure is built on our mountain tops, we cannot unbuild it.

Our General Assembly has been debating the possibility of large-scale development of a different kind on our ridge tops - industrial wind turbins. The impetus for the debate is whether the 1983 ridge top law should be amended to permit industrial-sized wind farms on top of the mountains. All research indicates that the best place for wind farms are on the highest ridge tops at the highest elevations available. The best type of turbine to harness the wind and create energy would be as tall as Sugar Top Condos - twice as tall as the BB&T building in downtown Asheville. A proposed Mitchell County wind farm would have as many as 20 of these 400-foot-tall structures. I am very proud of Sens. Nesbitt, Queen and Snow for standing up for our mountains and questioning the scope and size of this proposal.

Installation of most of these turbines will also require use of any existing roads as well as construction of additional roads along the ridge tops and space cut up the sides of mountains for the transmission lines. After the proposed permit process, a one-to-three-year impact study of the wind, environment, birds, bats and other wildlife will begin. A July 15 article in the The Mitchell News Journal stated that construction of the wind farm would create 100-plus jobs for one to one and a half years, but only three to seven full-time jobs once operational.

In my view, the argument is not whether wind energy is a preferable alternative to coal-burning power plants. Nor is it about the creation of badly needed jobs. The concern is with the potential to permanently alter, influence and degrade another precious resource: our mountains. A massive change in these mountains would not only affect the natural habitats of birds, bats, bears and other wildlife, but could also impact private land that would be broken up by eminent domain in order to build transmission lines and roads.

I believe that we do not need to rush through permitting wind farms that will not be operational for a minimum of two years and possibly much longer, depending on the length of time it takes to install the turbines, build the road and create the transmission lines.

We should take a hard look at the alternative of small-scale community wind turbines (rather than an industrial wind farm) that will be allowed under the proposed legislation. Can we not create an acquisition process for residential wind turbines that is reasonable for individuals and create jobs that will last longer than one to two years? There are other alternative sources of energy: solar and landfill gas to name only two that can be used both residentially and on a large scale.

We need to give ourselves time to make sure the energy supplied by a wind farm or any other large-scale alternative energy source will intelligently and thoughtfully replace the energy currently created by coal, and not just merely aid our overconsumption and ultimately maintain the status quo. With development of innovative energy-efficiency technologies, the need for any type of energy generation can be reduced and potentially eliminated. I encourage Sens. Nesbitt, Queen and Snow to continue their good fight to preserve and protect our mountaintops. We don't want to repeat the mistakes of 1983. Sugar Top Condos is a permanent reminder of how the ridge tops we all love and cherish can be changed forever.

David Gantt is a Buncombe County commissioner and lawyer in Asheville. He lives in the Limestone area of Buncombe County.


Source: http://www.citizen-times.co...

AUG 27 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/21931-huge-industrial-windmills-on-ridge-tops-a-bad-idea
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