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Construction on Mineral County wind farm could start in fall

Work could begin as early as fall on a controversial, 23-turbine wind farm in Mineral County. Despite that, environmentalists opposed to the project say their fight continues. ...Frank O'Hara, a spokesman for Allegheny Front Alliance, said many West Virginians are just now learning about the wind farm project -- and aren't eager to see it take shape.

KEYSER -- Work could begin as early as fall on a controversial, 23-turbine wind farm in Mineral County.

Despite that, environmentalists opposed to the project say their fight continues.

It's been nearly six months since the West Virginia Public Service Commission granted approval for the $131 million Pinnacle Wind Farm, and officials with the privately held Pennsylvania company behind the project this week said construction details are close to being nailed down.

"We're hopeful we can start construction in the fall or if not, then in the spring," said David Friend, vice president of sales and marketing for U.S. WindForce LLC, which has projects under way in Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia.

Friend said the company also is finalizing a power purchasing agreement with the University of Maryland for the Mineral County project, which is slated for a 3.5-mile front along Green Mountain.

"It's nice to be getting close to actual construction," Friend said. "You'll hear people say wind is an unregulated business, and that's not really the case. We filed our notice of intent in January of 2009, and we're just getting the final clearances we need. It does take time."

But Frank O'Hara, a... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

KEYSER -- Work could begin as early as fall on a controversial, 23-turbine wind farm in Mineral County.

Despite that, environmentalists opposed to the project say their fight continues.

It's been nearly six months since the West Virginia Public Service Commission granted approval for the $131 million Pinnacle Wind Farm, and officials with the privately held Pennsylvania company behind the project this week said construction details are close to being nailed down.

"We're hopeful we can start construction in the fall or if not, then in the spring," said David Friend, vice president of sales and marketing for U.S. WindForce LLC, which has projects under way in Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia.

Friend said the company also is finalizing a power purchasing agreement with the University of Maryland for the Mineral County project, which is slated for a 3.5-mile front along Green Mountain.

"It's nice to be getting close to actual construction," Friend said. "You'll hear people say wind is an unregulated business, and that's not really the case. We filed our notice of intent in January of 2009, and we're just getting the final clearances we need. It does take time."

But Frank O'Hara, a spokesman for Allegheny Front Alliance, said many West Virginians are just now learning about the wind farm project -- and aren't eager to see it take shape.

"More and more people are seeing the implications," he said. "These massive turbines will contribute little to the energy needs of our country, they won't serve West Virginia and there's no question they'll lessen the quality of life within our community."

O'Hara said it remains possible that his group will seek to block the project in federal court. "That's what happened with Beech Ridge," he said, referring to a wind farm in Greenbrier County.

Last year, an animal welfare group joined with Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy to take developer Beech Ridge Energy of Rockville, Md., to U.S. District Court, insisting the construction would put at risk the lives of Indiana bats and thus violate the Endangered Species Act.

Earlier this year, a compromise OK'd by the court allows portions of the project to move forward with daytime-only operations for now.

With the Mineral County project, O'Hara said, the wind turbines are to be positioned along the flyways of migratory birds.

"At this time [we have chosen] not to move forward in the state court," he said. "However, the Allegheny Front Alliance's goal is to protect the area's cultural and natural environment. That mission is obviously not complete."

The Greensburg, Pa.-based U.S. WindForce said the Keyser project could create hundreds of jobs as well as more than $1 million in state and county tax dollars. The company estimates the turbines will generate enough energy to handle the needs of about 14,100 homes.

According to company literature, more than 150 workers will be needed to construct the wind farm, and once it's up and operating, it will employ a work force of five. 


Source: http://www.wboy.com/story.c...

JUN 15 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/26753-construction-on-mineral-county-wind-farm-could-start-in-fall
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