Library filed under Impact on Landscape from West Virginia
Though the Mineral County commissioners heard from US Windforce on the Pinnacle project on Green Mountain last month, the Allegheny Front Alliance got the chance Tuesday to try to refute some of the wind developer's claims. The group's nearly hour-long presentation included sentiments that the energy provided by the project was not needed in West Virginia, but in the other states on the PJM grid.
Wind Farm near Keyser is a favorable site for turbines based on wildlife considerations, according to extensive studies conducted by environmental consultants retained by the developer, US WindForce. That was the message from Monday night's meeting of the Community Advisory Panel, delivered by Jennie Henthorn of Henthron Environmental Consultants.
The governor's assertion in his State of the State address on Feb. 11 that "West Virginians know energy better than anyone" is belied by his woeful ignorance of wind power's limitations. He seems all too eager to sacrifice the glorious vistas of the Mountain State - as well as the tourism, recreation and vacation home building industries dependent on those unfettered, forested ridges - to posture himself as a forward-thinking, environmentally minded political leader. Instead what he has done is to have swallowed whole the baloney sandwich served up by the wind industry, and he now asks the Legislature to follow suit.
Residents filled the auditorium of Washington High School on Monday evening in hopes that their voices would be heard and a change would be made to the proposed route for a high-voltage power line slated for construction in the area. Nearly 150 people turned out for a public hearing about P.A.T.H., which stands for Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline, and is a joint venture of Allegheny Energy and American Electric Power that was announced last year.
I live near the Backbone Mountain Wind Project. I would like all your readers to know that you do not have to be within sight of wind turbines for them to have an impact on you and your home and daily life. The Backbone wind turbines are four miles from my home, with hills in between us, but I can still hear them.
The AES New Creek application makes the seventh wind turbine project located on the WV Appalachian ridges to come before the Public Service Commission. As with all the other projects before the W.Va. PSC the citizens of West Virginia will not benefit from any of the electricity generated. The cumulative impact on the human and environmental ecology of our region will be catastrophic. ...Once again the natural resources of our state are being plundered for corporate gain and no amount of bail out money will be able to restore our beautiful ridges and tranquil woodlands, pastures, streams, cultural heritage and homes.
Area residents concerned about the growing visual footprint of the wind industry in the region, including a planned 23-turbine wind farm that will transform the skyline west of Keyser, gathered Sunday to form a citizens group that will seek to educate the public about wind energy. The new group, named Allegheny Front Alliance, met Sunday afternoon at Keyser Primary Middle School, with about 25 people in attendance.
Arthur and Pamela Dodds are upset with the West Virginia Public Service Commission's approval of the wind turbine facility along the Laurel Mountain ridgeline in Barbour and Randolph Counties. "I was very disappointed that the wind turbine complex had been approved. I feel there was an improper balancing of the information that the opposition gave," says Pamela Dodds, a Barbour County resident.
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.
I had always favored building wind farms. The burden of coal mining-and particularly mountaintop removal coal mining-is so great that anything would be better. If wind farms diminish that then they are worth it. ...Now there is a new twist to the argument, something that makes thinking about wind power even more difficult. In the article that begins on page 14 of this issue, Ms. Collins argues that building more wind farms will not reduce the use of coal. She argues that because wind farms only make electricity when the wind blows, they are inefficient and unreliable. ...If it true that wind farms do not diminish the use of coal, then we do have some rethinking to do. If they do not replace any coal, then what is the point? Why should a single bat die, a single hiker be inconvenienced, a single tree be cut if wind power is not going to reduce the use of coal or some other source of electricity?
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.
Is it too expensive to survey historic resources before Virginia's first wind energy plant is constructed? Highland New Wind Development says it would have to fork over between $50,000-$75,000, or more, to do what state officials have been steadily requesting for two years. ...DHR archeologist Roger Kirchen, however, told The Recorder his agency needs the results of these surveys before a review of the project is completed. "The final SCC order directs the applicant to work toward providing us with information," Kirchen said Monday. "The SCC order has the authority. We've exchanged some documents (with HNWD) ... but none of these issues have been resolved. At this point, we're just trying to identify the potential effects."
Death, destruction and insomnia are marketed as "renewable electricity" to urban consumers. The federal production tax credit drives it all, with additional subsidies on national forest, where no property taxes are levied. ...We'd have to replace nearly every tree with a turbine to offset even a small amount of coal's impact, devastating the forest in the process. Without a national policy on energy conservation and efficiency, we're whistling in the wind anyway.
One week after moving in, Loudenslager found out that a swath of the farm where cows graze and alfalfa grows soon could be cleared to make way for a high-voltage power line. "It's like a punch to the gut," Loudenslager said. "This is where I've wanted to be my whole life." Loudenslager's farm north of Boonsboro sits on one of several routes that have been suggested for the Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH), which would run from St. Albans, W.Va., through Bedington, W.Va., to Kemptown, Md., in Frederick County.
And turbines are still something of a novelty for most of us, so the "not in my backyard" mentality hasn't yet set in when it comes to wind farms. In fact, as we reported in the Energy Journal, groups of ranchers in eastern Wyoming -- seeing an opportunity to make some money without significantly disrupting their ag operations -- have banded together to market their properties to wind energy developers. That, of course, could change. As turbines begin to spring up in more sensitive, pristine spots, or closer to residential areas, the novelty could wear off quickly.
Wind power developer Beech Ridge Energy caught a break it didn't deserve when the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals approved its plan to build tall turbines on ridges in Greenbrier County, said Justice Larry Starcher. In a July 17 dissent he claimed the court improperly allowed Beech Ridge Energy to provide vital information after the Public Service Commission approved its plan.
On May 8th 2007, eleven citizens' groups filed a Sixty Day Notice of Intent to Sue regarding the company NedPower Mt. Storm, and its corporate owners Dominion Resources, and Shell Wind Energy. The Notice alleges violations of the Endangered Species Act, involving the West Virginia northern flying squirrel, the Indiana bat, and the Virginia big-eared bat. The Notice also raises concerns about impacts to bald and golden eagles and migrating birds that are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The citizens' groups are demanding that the industrial wind corporation apply for an incidental take permit, and modify or stop construction of this project, before irreparable harm is done to West Virginia's natural heritage.
Freedom Works is planning the project to span the ridge line running along the border between Va. and West Va. The line runs from approximately five miles north of Woodstock to about five miles South of Mount Jackson, along the Western horizon. This would cover eighteen miles of ridgeline, in two states (Virginia and West Virginia), and three counties (Hardy in West Virginia, and Shenandoah and Rockingham in Virginia.) The timeline for the project runs from as short as a two-year, permit-gathering phase (followed by one to two years of construction) to a completion date as far off as the year 2040. When asked about a reported 2010 completion date for the project, Jim Smalls, district ranger for the Lee Ranger District within which the project is being planned, simply said, "I find that optimistic."
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?