Articles filed under General from West Virginia
West Virginia has a second wind-energy project up and running. NedPower Mount Storm LLC's turbines are generating electricity along the Allegheny Front in Grant County. Developers of the 264-megawatt project confirmed the project's status in response to reports from local residents that turbines appeared to be operating. ... Neddenien at first declined to confirm that information, and later refused to provide any details about how many turbines were operating. "The number of units operating on any given day changes, given wind conditions, and the amount of energy generated also changes," Neddenien said.
Wind can be strong or weak, consistent or unreliable, sufficient to support wind generation or not. It all depends on location. Local support for wind can also be strong or weak, consistent or unreliable, sufficient or insufficient to support wind generation. It, too, depends on location. About 200 people from across Virginia converged at JMU for the second annual VWEC symposium on wind energy and their interest in the industry was about the only thing they had in common. Most, but not all, supported wind power development. And not all those in favor were willing to accept wind energy unconditionally.
The state Supreme Court Monday denied the efforts of state and local anti-windfarm activists and upheld two decisions by the Public Service Commission that granted a conditional building permit in 2006 for a $300 million Greenbrier County windfarm. The court's landmark decision, the first to test the PSC's new siting certificate regulations, largely focused on the PSC's jurisdiction to grant the permit and could significantly impact the future of wind energy in West Virginia. During oral argument before the high court in January, Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy and Alicia and Jeffrey Eisenbeiss argued the PSC improperly granted the permit to Chicago-based Invenergy and its Beech Ridge windfarm.
Plans to build a 124-turbine wind farm on a West Virginia ridgeline won critical support Monday from the state Supreme Court, which upheld a conditional permit already approved by the state Public Service Commission. The justices ruled Monday in support of the permit, after hearing arguments in January on the $300 million proposal by Beech Ridge Energy LLC. ... A group of local residents calling itself the Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy, along with Jeffrey and Alicia Eisenbeiss of Renick, challenged the permit. They charged, in part, that the PSC's application permit didn't include input from opponents on such matters as the area's cultural and historical importance.
People in Shenandoah County had the opportunity to hear both sides of the wind turbine debate Tuesday night at a public forum. They turned out to learn more about what potential impacts, good and bad, the turbines would have. Impacts to land, wildlife, and the local economy are just a few of the considerations. ... After about two hours, people left with much to consider. "Both of them brought up good points," says Kelley. "And, it's just something that I think is going to take some time to absorb everything."
A community forum on the pros and cons of wind turbines along the Virginia-West Virginia border will be held tonight at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School in Woodstock. ...The discussion was triggered in March by a proposal by FreedomWorks LLC, a renewable-energy firm from Harpers Ferry, W.Va., to study the impact of constructing 130 440-foot wind turbines in George Washington National Forest, said Rosemary Wallinger, chairman of the Forum. Freedom Works requested the Federal Aviation Administration look into the plan. The FAA is one of the regulatory bodies involved in wind farm proposals. The proposal also would need the approval of the U.S. Forest Service.
The concern over mountaintop mining is one that most people share. Extracting coal is dangerous, transporting coal is hard on the roads, and burning the coal to turn the turbines that generate the electricity is never going to be without some sort of air pollution. However, wind power predates coal, and wind is still far from a practical and reliable source of energy. If wind power were cheaper, electric companies would switch to it in a New York minute. Companies seek to keep costs down, and profits up. If Appalachian Power could replace its John Amos plant with a few windmills, it would. One problem is reliability. The wind is not constant on Earth. The dog days of summer could stop the wind, just as air conditioners are clicking into overdrive.
Eleven citizen and environmental groups in West Virginia and Maryland have filed a 60-day notice about their intent to sue a wind power project. They say the huge turbines from the NedPower Mount Storm project would kill endangered bats and squirrels near the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area. The groups also will sue corporate owners Dominion Resources and Shell Wind Energy for violating the Endangered Species Act, according to Judy Rodd, director of Friends of Blackwater Canyon, based in Charleston. ...Landowners who live near the project also have filed a nuisance suit against NedPower citing concerns about their health and safety, as well as reductions in their property values.
Being neither pro nor con on wind turbines, I would like some facts on them. How much power do they produce in megawatt hours? Will it take 20,000 of these structures to replace 20,000 megawatts of power in our coal fired grid? Is enough voltage produced to push this power over 100 miles? ... I have 23 years experience in power generation and have seen political fads come and go. We would all like to lower our energy costs. ...Wind turbines are a good idea, but are they practical or just another tax break for power companies?
Late last week, eleven citizens groups filed a Sixty Day Notice of Intent to Sue NedPower Mt. Storm and its corporate owners Dominion Resources, and Shell Wind Energy for violations of the Endangered Species Act involving the "takes" of the West Virginia northern flying squirrel, the Indiana bat, and the Virginia big-eared bat. The letter, sent to the Fish and Wildlife Service, NedPower and the West Virginia Public Service Commission, also raises concerns about impacts to bald and golden eagles and migrating birds protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Acts. The 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.
The State Public Service Commission spent the day taking tours of 12 different sites that could be impacted by a proposed wind farm along Laurel Mountain in Randolph and Barbour Counties. ...The Laurel Mountain Preservation society was also part of the tour, the group is opposed to the turbines because of the impact it could have on birds and other wildlife. The PSC will take all the information from the site visits and from public hearings into consideration before it makes a final decision on the proposal.
Apparently hoping that a proposed agreement between the staff of the West Virginia Public Service Commission and Allegheny Energy would put a better face on the utility's proposed Trans-Allegheny Interstate Power Line project, the Hampshire County Commission received an e-mail request to reverse its opposition to the project. Commissioners Don Cookman, Steve Slonaker and Robert Hott, however, all agreed that would not happen.
While concerns that wind turbines on Green Mountain will ruin the viewshed were the most voiced topic, area residents had an opportunity to consider a lot of information about the proposed project during an open house at the Wind Lea Conference Center Monday. ...Greg Trainor also voiced his concern about the view. "I love the mountain and I don't want to look up there and see 30 whirlygigs," he said, adding that the wind projects are just another way for the state to be taken. "We don't want to squander our view for a few dollars," he said, to which Clay added, "or 30 pieces of silver." Trainor said that West Virginia has a history of giving away its wealth.
U.S. Windforce, headquartered in Wexford, Pa., has proposed the development of the Pinnacle wind farm southwest of Keyser on Green Mountain. "The purpose of the open house is to share information about the project," said Mary Green of Ann Green Communications, a public relations agency representing U.S. Windforce. ...It has been more than two years since U.S. WindForce first announced proposed wind projects in both Maryland and West Virginia, three of which are to be located in the local region, one on Savage Mountain in Allegany County, another at Mount Storm in Grant County and the one in Mineral County.
The state Public Service Commission has scheduled two public hearings on a proposed wind farm along the Laurel Mountain ridgeline. AES Laurel Mountain of Arlington, Va., wants to build up to 65 wind turbines along 8 miles of the ridgeline in Barbour and Randolph counties. Comments will be accepted beginning at 1 p.m. May 7 at the Elkins City Building and at 7 p.m. May 7 at the Barbour County Courthouse.
A company has applied to the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to build 131 wind turbines along 18 miles of ridge line between Virginia and West Virginia. The 440-foot turbines would tower above national forest land in Shenandoah, Rockingham and Hardy counties. If approved, work on the project could start as early as 2010. That, of course, is a pretty big if. As attractive as the concept is - letting wind generate electricity instead of air-polluting coal or expensive Middle Eastern oil - the wind farm proposal will almost certainly trigger a battle royal between corporate interests and valley residents.
Thus, under the guise of environmental values, public policy in Virginia is promoting renewable energy. But under a different set of environmental values, we'll find that many of those projects are undesirable. To my way of thinking, energy conservation is the most pristine environmental policy of all -- avoid consuming the electricity in the first place. Of course, our current regulatory apparatus encourages Dominion and other electric utilities to pursue renewable energy sources, whatever the cost, because they can pass on the cost to rate payers. By contrast, power companies in Virginia only undercut their market when they invest in conservation measures. We're getting what we wished for, and we may not like it.
But the fact that interest is out there for such a project is a sign of things to come, said Rick Webb, operator of www.vawind.org and a senior scientist with the environmental sciences department at the University of Virginia. "This is probably the tip of the iceberg," he said. Eighteen miles of national forest ridgeline, most of which is on Shenandoah Mountain, stands to be affected by the proposal, Webb said. "It's industrializing our national forest," he said. "The question is whether it's worth the trade-off. In my conclusion, it is not. The electricity produced is just a drop in the bucket."
Proposals for wind farms in the Valley are whipping up opposing viewpoints about the structures' effects on wildlife, local vistas and energy production. Opponents say the turbines, each hundreds of feet tall, would mar the local landscape and endanger bats and birds, some of which are federally protected. But proponents say the farms can be built with minimum impact on the environment to offer clean, alternative energy and a break from the nation's dependency on foreign oil. ...After studying maps and coordinates provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, consultant D. Daniel Boone, a conservation biologist and policy analyst, said the FreedomWorks' project could negatively affect untouched areas of the George Washington National Forest. "Other than a power line and one small road which crosses between Hardy and Shenandoah counties, the project area is completely undisturbed forest with no sign of logging roads or clear-cuts," Boone stated.
The 131 turbines, each 440 feet tall, would cover 18 miles of ridgecrest, according to private consultant D. Daniel Boone, a conservation biologist and policy analyst. Ninety turbines would be located in Virginia with the other 41 in Hardy County, according to Boone. Boone prepared a map stipulating each turbine based upon the coordinates provided in the 7460-1 applications filed with the Federal Aviation Agency by an unknown developer. "Each wind turbine has a separate 7460-1 application filed with FAA," Boone said.