Articles filed under General from West Virginia
An unnamed company has started the application process to build 131 of the massive wind turbines in the national forest in Rockingham County and along the border between Virginia's Shenandoah County and Hardy County in West Virginia. "We're in the pre-application stage" with the company proposing to build the turbines, Chris Rose, a spokesman for the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests, said Monday. Rose declined to name the company, citing its early application status, which allows the federal agency to keep the name confidential.
Although the West Virginia Public Service Commission has not yet ruled whether to grant AES' siting permit to construct up to 65 wind turbines on the Laurel Mountain ridge between Barbour and Randolph counties, the company has already secured agreements with landowners to move forward if approved. According to property records at the Barbour and Randolph County courthouses, AES has entered into lease option agreements with 11 land owners ...The agreements give AES lease options for 43 parcels of land, totaling 8,528 acres. No compensation amounts are included in the documents, but Sweitzer said landowners would be paid an option payment and then receive annual payments after the project is constructed.
We keep getting told that wind power will help reduce carbon emissions and help combat global warming. Europe is littered with wind plants yet there are no reports of a single fossil fuel powered plant being closed as a result of wind power. Europe shows no evidence of any significant reduction in carbon emissions due to wind power. Denmark, a country with one of the largest numbers of wind turbines, is one of the worst offenders in terms of carbon output per capita. This failure to deliver carbon savings makes the negative impacts all more important to consider. The impacts from the Backbone Mountain facility have already destroyed numerous bats. That is but a single installation. ...West Virginia suffers enough with the coal mining industry destroying its mountains and endangering coal miners. That it should be subjected to further abuse from what amounts to nothing less than modern day "emperor's new clothing" is a terrible irony.
A proposed windmill farm project, that has been stirring up plenty of controversy, gets a "no" from Elkins city leaders. Elkins city council met this afternoon just after 4 o'clock and passed a resolution opposing the construction of the laurel mountain wind farm.
The wind farm at Mount Storm that dominates much of the skyline along the Allegheny Mountain is behind schedule but moving forward. The Keyser Lions Club got a report on the construction of 132 electric-generating wind turbines Thursday evening with a presentation on the NedPower Wind Project at Mount Storm adjacent to the Dominion coal-fired power plant. Eli Mastin, project manager for Mortenson Construction of Minneapolis, Minn., the company that is building the wind farm for project developer NedPower, said that phase one, which includes 82 wind turbines, is about 75 percent complete.
The proposed windmill project for Laurel Mountain is being greeted with mixed opinions by several residents and organizations within the community. Two local groups, the West Virginia Green Energy Alliance and the Laurel Mountain Preservation Association, have taken decisively different stances ...The Laurel Mountain Preservation Association, has filed a petition with the PSC to intervene in the project. Art and Pam Dodds, who serve as spokespeople for the organization, said the group 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. Art Dodds said the group's main goals are to preserve the watershed, along with the headwater habitats of the Tygart Valley River watershed and the historical significance of the Battle of Laurel Hill. They oppose construction of the windmills on the ridge because of the destruction of the environment and the destruction of their historical heritage.
I find it odd that a state that has such a large percentage of revenue coming from tourism provided by persons who visit us to experience the beauty of our mountains would allow wind farms to exist here. Structure and support funding for skiing, spelunking, rafting, hunting, hiking, fishing, biking and other outdoor activities would much better fill the list of things to enhance our beautiful state - not a farm of minimally useful, 25 percent efficient, 400-plus foot towers with 100-foot blades spinning the bats and birds to oblivion at 180 plus miles-per-hour. Many West Virginia laws have been written to protect our fragile environment, but they don't seem to apply to catastrophic damage caused by wind farms.
Justices of the state Supreme Court of Appeals gasped and groaned when Public Service Commission attorney John Auville told them the commission and its employees are learning about wind turbines as they go along. His comment, in oral argument Jan. 9, alarmed the Justices because the commission conditionally has approved construction of 124 turbines, each 400 feet tall, in Greenbrier County. Auville sensed that he had embarrassed his client.
Opponents of a proposed wind farm in Greenbrier County asked the state Supreme Court on Wednesday to reject the Public Service Commission's conditional approval of the project, claiming the PSC didn't follow its own rules in balancing the project against the public's interest. ...A group of local residents called Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy, and Jeffrey and Alicia Eisenbeiss of Renick challenged the permits. Part of their argument was the PSC's application permit didn't include opponents' input on issues such as the cultural and historical importance of the area. 'To the people who are going to live under these 400-foot turbines, they need to be included in those balancing acts,' attorney Justin R. St. Clair, who represents MCRE, told the justices.
Greenbrier County resident Jeffrey Eisenbeiss also spoke to the court. He claims the state Public Service Commission doesn't have wind energy experts on staff and leaned heavily on experts hired by Beech Ridge to make its final decision. "There's no justice in that," he said. "There has to be an unbiased search by the Public Service Commission to see both sides of the battle and there're not. It's the power of the purse against the power of the citizens." ...Chief Justice Maynard and Justice Robin Davis both said during Wednesday's arguments the Supreme Court's involvement in the case may be premature. The PSC says there would be a chance for opponents to challenge Beech Ridge's meeting of the 25 contingencies. The Supreme Court will likely hand down its written before the current term ends in late June.
The David and Goliath battle between industry and environmentalists for control of 23 miles of ridge tops continues today in Charleston when the state Supreme Court hears oral arguments for and against a proposed $300 million Greenbrier County windfarm. In one corner is Chicago-based Invenergy, an international company that’s invested $2 million into the Beech Ridge Energy project which is slated to build 124 wind turbines around the Cold Knob mountain area. ...In the opposing corner are the grassroots efforts of Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy and Jeffrey and Alcia Eisenbeiss, two groups that have been buzzsaws in Beech Ridge’s plans since day one.
But demand for electricity continues to increase by about 2 percent a year and could double in just 35 years. Simply to keep up with that level of demand would require construction of 72,391 2-megawatt turbines on 434,347 miles of ridges and hills annually. An even larger stumbling block is that wind energy cannot by itself replace any coal-fired power plant. Because wind energy is variable, it needs help from conventional power sources to keep energy levels even. Wind advocates claim cleaner-burning natural gas-fired units can handle the load, but those units emit carbon as well. There is a limited availability of natural gas and a lack of pipeline infrastructure in many areas where wind turbine development is projected. The basic problem with wind is that it cannot supply power on demand. ...This is no doubt troubling to those who have been led to believe that wind power is a worthwhile antidote to atmospheric carbon buildup, but the facts indicate otherwise. Each remedy proposed by wind advocates to compensate for the failings of wind technology requires more and more taxpayer-funded support, masking the true costs of letting wind energy loose on the grid.
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."
Two appeals challenging the permits for a $300 million wind farm will be heard by the state Supreme Court on Jan. 9. In their appeals, Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy and Stephanie Mendelson, Michael Woelfel, and Jeffrey and Alicia Eisenbeiss question the state Public Service Commission's approval process for the project.
The Mount Storm wind farm has a new $185 million construction and operating loan. ...The project's first phase - 82 turbines capable of generating 164 megawatts of electricity - is scheduled to start commercial operations next January. Dominion and Shell have said they plan 50 more turbines despite a legal challenge.
The residents, who live in the Mount Storm area, are seeking an injunction to stop the construction of almost 200 wind turbines adjacent to the Dominion Mount Storm Power Plant. They claim the turbines would devalue their property and generally create a nuisance that would interfere with their quality of life. The case, which began more than a year ago and has since been appealed to the West Virginia Supreme Court, is back in the local venue after the Supreme Court upheld the plaintiff's appeal.
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.
Much of Tuesday's hearing concerning the wind turbine project coming on line at Mount Storm focused on who should be in court. A group of plaintiffs living near the 200-turbine NedPower wind-power project under construction adjacent to the Dominion Mount Storm Power Plant is seeking an injunction to stop the project. NedPower, a Dutch company, is the developer of the project. It plans eventually to install some 200 turbines to be operated by Shell WindEnergy, which has since sold a half interest to Dominion Power of Virginia.
The reception was somewhat on the chilly side, Tuesday, when a pair of mountaintop residents brought their protests about windpower electricity to the Grant County Commission. Residents Bruce Halgren and Richard Spicer appeared before commissioners as part of a campaign to reduced the number of windpowered turbines being erected in the community by NedPower and Shell Renewables and Hydrogen. The pair asked commissioners to oppose six turbines to be constructed within 820 feet of public roadways. They say the turbines present an "ice throw" hazard to motorists on Grassy Ridge Road and state Route 93.
The Grant County commissioners focused much of their attention at their recent public meeting on taking action to address the concerns of residents in the mountaintop region of the county related to road damage and threatened water resources. Commissioner Jim Cole said that the residents have had their patience pushed to the limit during the last few months. "Their water supply has been threatened by Wolf Run's application for a mining permit and they have had to wait hours with the roads blocked while equipment is transported to Grassy Ridge by NedPower/Shell WindEnergy," he said. The county commission has gone on record opposing the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection granting a permit to Wolf Run. However, the commissioners noted that they need to continue to do whatever else is necessary to ensure the residents have safe, potable drinking water.