Articles filed under Impact on People from West Virginia
In AES' application to the Public Service Commission for a siting certificate, in the second volume page 5, they state, "there is a demonstrated need for additional generating capacity in the region as well as the PJM (grid managers) power markets which include West Virginia." Maybe AES isn't aware that West Virginia already exports 70 percent of the power produced in the state. We certainly don't need the power. West Virginia being a huge exporter of power has transmission lines running everywhere, providing wind developers easy access to the grid. With no real sitting regulations, no mass population to deal with, and armed with tax credits and incentives, both federal and state, once again West Virginia is ripe for exploitation. ...Hopefully our mountains and wind will always be here. Wind developers want to cram these wind turbines down our throats and act as if this is the only chance we'll ever have to take advantage of this so-called "wonderful opportunity."
The current political wind is in favor of the developers and industrial wind energy interests, thereby significantly influencing the pressure on our natural environment. If the trend continues, how much of our national, state and private forests will remain when our fast expanding population will likely be desperate for a little breathing room in the future - 25, 50 and 100 years from today? I am well aware of the issues of global warming and the nation's energy requirements and am totally convinced that industrial wind energy projects on the ridge tops of the mountains in the Eastern United States is not the solution and unworthy of the billions of dollars that we are bestowing upon this industry. A major reason for the increasing opposition to the development of large industrial wind projects in the mountains is loss of visual amenity, the effects of highly visible vertical man-made structures with rotating blades located in predominantly horizontal, static natural hillscapes. The loss of beautiful scenery, favorite views and inspiring landscapes are objections dismissed by large corporate developers as emotional and subjective. ...In conclusion, the negative issues, problems and drawbacks of siting industrial wind turbines on the pristine mountains is not the answer our nation's need for energy sources. Why are we allowing them to infiltrate our ecologically fragile landscapes and cause huge negative impacts?
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.
One of my big concerns is that the publicity I see on television and in newspapers does not really reflect both sides of the issue. It makes the average viewer/reader who does not do his own investigation believe that there are no real problems other than that people don't want to look at them across our mountain tops. If the average person really understood the effects of the turbine installation and operation, there would be a lot more people objecting. Perhaps it sounds inappropriate for someone who lives in another county to be objecting to the turbines on Laurel Mountain. As the projects being proposed involve at least 8 counties, there will be a cumulative negative impact if they are approved.
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 Laurel Mountain Preservation Association has been vocal at several governmental and public meetings regarding its opposition to the wind turbines. Members Art and Pam Dodd said the organization was formed in 2005 "to monitor and protect water resources and to promote an appreciation for the importance of the historical significance of the Battle of Laurel Hill." ..."Our group opposes the construction of wind turbines on the ridgetop of Laurel Mountain or any other mountain because, on a regional scale, the clear-cutting of large ridgetop areas for wind turbine construction reduces our groundwater recharge," the Dodds said. "The West Virginia Groundwater Protection Act states that over 90 percent of West Virginia residents rely on groundwater for their homes. The increased runoff to streams not only destroys headwater habitats and increases the potential for flooding, but also creates an imbalance in the water cycle that would lower our groundwater reserves forever."
At the heart of Halgren's complaint are a series of safety setbacks discussed by the PSC report, as well as several international organizations. One of those groups is the Word Bank. Halgren said international standards call for greater setback distances from roads and houses than those being used by NedPower and Shell WindEnergy. He claimed these standards were not included in the project's state permit because they were unknown to the PSC staff at the time. According to Halgren, international standards call for setbacks ranging upwards to 1,025 feet. In contrast, he said six turbine sites along Grassy Ridge Road are located from 123-323 feet from the pavement, and within 500 feet of homes. Halgren said the PSC staff favors an 820-foot setback between turbine towers and homes.
Congressman Alan Mollohan sent an 11-page letter to the state Division of Energy officials last week, criticizing a new state plan for developing industrial wind power sites, primarily in the state's northeastern counties. State plans "entirely disregard the serious environmental concerns" raised by a number of critical studies prepared by the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Government Accountability Office, said Mollohan, D-W.Va. Citing state marketing efforts touting the state's scenic vistas and calm pace, he asked, "How do rows of 400-foot-high industrial and wind turbines, spread out over thousands of acres of ridgelines, fit into that picture?" ...James Webb, a University of Virginia research scientist, recently found that the Mountaineer Project in Tucker County operated at only 9 percent of its capacity during the month of August. Webb calculated it would typically take nearly 3,000 huge wind turbines to match the power output of one conventional electric power plant.
Appalachian states lack strong and detailed guidelines to regulate the continued growth of wind power facilities along the Mid-Atlantic highlands, according to a new study by the National Academy of Sciences. A team of academy experts concluded that wind power can help offset the greenhouse emissions caused by coal and other fossil-fuel energy sources, but the projected growth of wind power in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania creates potential threats to bird and bat populations that are not fully understood, the academy study found. Windmill "farms" also can cause other environmental problems and create legitimate aesthetic concerns for local communities - ranging from damage to scenic vistas to noise and "shadow flicker," a strobe-like effect created by rotating turbines, the report found. "The United States is in the early stages of learning how to plan for and regulate wind-energy facilities," says the report, compiled by the National Academy's National Research Council. The report said the cumulative effects of continued growth in wind power are unclear, and that further study is needed.
A group of Grant County landowners has filed a lawsuit seeking to block construction of a Mount Storm area wind-power project.
I walked on my normal walk in the woods one day and looked up to the top of the mountain. Just several months before it had been a picturesque view of wilderness beauty ... the kind that attracts tourists and creates much of the state's income. Now, it was lined with these tall mechanical monsters, towering over the trees of an old forest. I am not talking about the quaint and charming windmills of Holland here, we are talking about metal and flashing lights and a size that miniaturizes the grand forest beneath it.
More than 700 Greenbrier County residents have sent letters to the state Public Service Commission, opposing a plan to build one of the largest wind-power projects east of the Mississippi River. The residents say the wind turbines will spoil mountain views, decrease property values, kill bats and birds, hurt tourism and ruin hunting and fishing in the area. They predict the wind turbines will catch fire during lightning strikes. And they say the turbines will interfere with emergency radio communications.
This is a letter written by Paula Stahl of St. George, West Virginia, about her experiences living in the neighborhood of the 66 MW Mountaineer Wind Energy Center. Formerly known as the Backbone Mountain Wind Farm, the 4,400-acre site has 44 turbines, 1.5 MW each, stretched along miles of ridgeline in Tucker and Preston counties. Ms. Stahl submitted the letter to the Berkshire Eagle and North Adams Transcript, neither of which has printed it.