Resource Documents: Virginia (24 items)
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Author: Hartman, Hollister
These charts present data relevant to the wind siting guidelines provided by Sierra Club Wind Siting Advisory dated Nov. 2003, as applied to the wind project proposed for siting at Poor Mountain.
The salient change is that each Wind Siting Criterion now is associated with descriptions of features which allow a site to be characterized as either Most, Marginally, or Least appropriate with respect to each criterion. Any site which scores Least Appropriate on one or more criteria would render serious doubt as to suitability for a wind project.
Most of Sierra Club’s criteria actually are surrogates for “amount of wildlife habitat to be bulldozed”; which given the source as being Sierra Club – an organization sworn to protect wilderness values – is understandable. For example, under “Infrastructure” more credit is given to sites with preexisting power transmission lines. This avoids the need to build extensive new power lines, at the cost of bulldozing large areas of wildlife habitat. Similarly, being near major population centers reduces the amount of land which would have to be disrupted to access a new wind project. And to eliminate any trace of doubt as to their intent, Sierra Club also explicitly includes the variable, “Impact on Wildlife and/or Habitat”.
The value of using surrogate criteria rather than actual environmental impacts in the early phases of siting efforts is that it’s usually much faster and less costly to screen large areas of land qualitatively rather than quantitatively. By putting forth environmentally-conscious criteria for use by energy developers, Sierra Club performed the public service (intentionally or otherwise) of providing a means to orient attention away from what might end up being contentious sites which drain time, energy, and money from both developers & opponents. …
Strictly speaking, because Poor Mountain does not satisfy Sierra Club’s sole EXCLUSIONARY criterion of wind power potential, the proposed site should be eliminated from further consideration. However, in light of current confusion surrounding industry-standard siting practices, Evaluative criteria also are discussed in the following charts [full discussions are included in the original document, available for download below].
Current and/or Recent Land Use: federally excluded areas: national parks, wilderness areas, etc.; critical habitat for rare, threatened or endangered species; habitat for indigenous species critical to regional/state biodiversity. – Least appropriate
Infrastructure: existing infrastructure would require expanding and/or upgrading. – Marginally appropriate
Geographic Relation to Human Population: near major population and/or other power consumption centers [how near? how large a population?]. – Marginally appropriate
Impact on Wildlife and/or Habitat: unacceptable impact on wildlife or habitat, IAW credible environmental review [what level or type of impact is acceptable? to whom? how is reviewer credibility determined?]. – Least appropriate
Impairment of Scenic Value: important scenic values would be impaired [how is a scenic value deemed unimportant? what degrees or types of change constitute “no impairment”? how can scenic impairment be mitigated? what level or type of impairment is acceptable?]. – Least appropriate
Bottom Line: The Weight of Evidence shows that Poor Mountain must be rejected as UNSUITABLE for siting the proposed wind project.
Hollister Hartman is the author of several publications related to the fields of Civil Engineering and Natural Resource Management. She received her BS Degree in Biology from Yale University and her PhD in Population Biology (Applied Mathematics) from the University of California, Riverside. She also received certification in Multi-Attribute Decision Making from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Hartman’s professional siting experience includes instituting integration of Geographic Information Systems, managing geophysical/biocultural modeling for compliance of EPA regulations, and developing/implementing site selection methodologies for Hard Mobile Launcher, Small ICBM, and Peacekeeper deployment.
Additionally, she identified pivotal geological and engineering criteria underlying intractable nuclear waste repository siting issues for the U.S Department of Energy Yucca Mountain Project, overseeing project performance against federal, state and local regulations.
Dr. Hartman served in leadership positions with the National Research Council, the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics (AIAA) and numerous consortium appointments. She serves her community as Vice Chair of the Sierra Club/Roanoke, VA Group; Member of the Franklin County Planning Commission Technical Advisory Committee and Technical Analyst for defenders of Poor Mountain, VA.
Download original document: “Site Analysis: Poor Mountain proposed wind project”
Author: Siegel, Michael
Summary of Impacts on Highland County
- Few, if any, of the project’s temporary construction-related jobs would be filled by local residents. Most such jobs will be held by employees and contractors of the turbine manufacturer who are trained and experienced in the installation of this highly specialized equipment. Some jobs, such as earth-moving and/or grading jobs might be filled by residents of Highland County or other nearby areas.
- Few, if any, of the materials necessary to construct and equip the project would be produced or acquired in Highland County. A significant exception might be for acquisition of aggregate and/or fill material and possibly timber, if required.
- The project might result in one or two permanent jobs in Highland County for minor maintenance, monitoring and security for the project. This position(s) could be filled by someone residing outside of the County.
- The project’s ability to attract significant net new tourism and recreational outlays to the County is virtually zero.
- The project will be assessed for local real property tax purposes by the State Corporation Commission (SCC).
- The project’s ability to generate additional real property tax revenue to the County will depend upon: the “market value” and “stated” ratios, and depreciation schedule applied by the SCC, and the local real property tax rate to which it would be subject.
- The potential of the project to cause a reduction in real property tax revenue to the County will depend largely upon its negative impact on neighboring and nearby properties, and potential losses to the County’s recreational, tourism and hunting operations and enterprises.
- Based on current SCC practices, the amount of real property tax revenue that would be generated by the project would be highest in the first few years after construction, and would decline annually to some fraction of this amount in the last few years of its depreciation cycle.
- Based on a 20-year period depreciation cycle, an initial year taxable assessed value of about $32.6 million, and a local tax rate of $0.62 per $100, the project would generate an annual average of about $105,000 in real property tax revenue to the County. This amount could be somewhat greater if depreciation is significantly limited in the later years.
- Based on the foregoing, the net present value of the twenty-year real property tax revenue paid to the County over the depreciable life of the project would be about $1.5 million.
- These amounts would be offset by any loss in local tax revenues caused by: I) reductions in value of neighboring and nearby properties, ii) other economic losses to existing County businesses, and; iii) costs for the provision of County services to the project, such as Sheriff’s patrol (though these costs can be expected to be low).
- For a neighboring or nearby property with a current taxable assessed value of $100,000, a loss in value of 25 percent would cause a reduction in real property tax revenue of $155, annually. Over twenty years, the net present value of this loss is $2,230. A loss in value of 50 percent would cause an annual reduction of $310 annually which, over twenty years, represents a net present value loss of $4,456.
- For a combination of such parcels with a current taxable assessed value of $10.0 million, a 25 percent loss in value represents a net present value loss of $223,000 in real property tax revenue over a twenty year period. This amount would be double for a reduction in value of 50 percent.
- Because the County’s Local Composite Index is statutorily set, the amount of State assistance for local public schools would be unaffected by the project.
- A change in State statutes or regulations could cause local real property tax payments by the project to be lower than estimated herein.
- Aside from Sheriff’s patrol, the project would generate little demand for local County services.
- Since the project would generate few, if any jobs and new residents to the County, there would be little, if any, demand for additional services off-site.
Prepared by: Michael Siegel
Presented at the Highland County Wind Forum
Sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Highland County, Virginia
May 20, 2004
Download original document: “Economic and Fiscal Impacts of the Proposed New Highland Winds Project on Highland County, Virginia”
Author: U.S. Forest Service
Date: April 2, 2009
525 Wren Lane
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425
Dear Mr. Williamson:
This letter is sent in response to your application for permit to install three Meteorological Towers (MET) on Great North Mountain, located on the Lee Ranger District of the George Washington National Forest. The purpose of the towers is to collect meteorological data. As you indicated, the data collected will aid in preparation of a future proposal to install 131 wind turbines, each with the capacity to generate 2MW and create at least 500 acres of permanent openings. After careful consideration, I have concluded we can not accept your proposal.
As I understand it, you received the screening criteria we use to review proposals. The screening criteria are in Forest Service Handbook (FSH) 2709. There are two areas of immediate concern in relation to the criteria when applied to your proposal. The first criterion of concern is compliance with the George Washington National Forest Revised Land and Resources Management Plan (Forest Plan). The second criterion is the justification to utilize national forest land.
FSH 2709.11, Chapter 10, Section 12.21(2), states the proposal must be consistent or can be made to comply with standards and guidelines in the applicable forest land and resource management plan prepared under the National Forest Management Act. Your expressed intent to install 131 commercial wind turbines on Great North Mountain, requires me to consider this proposal in relation to our Forest Plan standards and guidelines.
Your proposal is within Management Area (MA) 14- Remote Habitat for Wildlife, as identified in the Forest Plan. This portion of MA14 is approximately 11,053 acres in size and currently has 0.9 miles of open road. The Forest Plan standard could accommodate an additional 1.9 miles of road. Your proposal requires construction of at least 16 miles of road. While the roads could be closed to all but the contractor, the amount of time the roads would be used, would constitute activity at a level equivalent to an open road, thus exceeding the Forest Plan standards.
Forest Plan Standards, pg 3-75, states the area is managed to meet a visual quality objective of partial retention. In order to meet partial retention, management activities must remain visually subordinate to the characteristic landscape. It would be difficult to say a tower over 400 feet in height overlooking the Shenandoah Valley is visually subordinate to the characteristic landscape. It would be even more difficult to portray a series of 131 towers, over 400 feet, along Great North Mountain, as subordinate to the characteristic landscape.
In addition to the visual concerns, the recreation opportunity assigned to this portion of Management Area 14 is Semi-Primitive Motorized. The description of Semi-Primitive Motorized areas is: “The area has high probability of isolation from sights of human activities, though an occasional primitive road, power line, or evidence of vegetation manipulation may be seen. Visitors perceive themselves as removed from human activity and experience solitude and serenity but occasional distant sounds may be heard. Motorized access by the public is highly restricted or non-existent. Existing roads are maintained and infrequently used for administrative purposes. Opportunity for self-reliance, challenge and risk exist. The area can be natural in appearance with occasional evidence of vegetation manipulation.” The towers, the access roads and the level of use on the road to maintain the towers do not meet the desired condition of Semi-Primitive Motorized Recreation.
MA14 areas are managed to maintain or enhance habitats for wildlife species by favoring a mature forest environment that provides a continuous supply of hard and soft mast and high value timber products. The area is characterized by dense vegetation cover and freedom from continued disturbance. Development of your project would permanently open-up at least 500 acres of forested land. This activity would not meet the desired conditions of providing remote habitat for wildlife as described above.
It is important to advise you of a new concern that recently emerged in Virginia and West Virginia that must be taken into account with the activities you wish to conduct; White Nose Syndrome (WNS) on bats. Within the last three months, this illness was discovered in caves in both states, south of your proposed project area. Unfortunately, WNS killed thousands of bats and has already killed hundreds in the newly discovered areas. This new discovery, combined with the history of commercial wind turbines killing bats, adds to the concerns over this project; especially when you consider the Indiana Bat, a Federally Endangered Species, are believed to be within your proposed project area and are hibernating in caves now affected by the WNS.
Also, FSH 2709.11, Chapter 10, Section 12.32a states; the proponent must explain the selection of the location of the proposed use and why use of National Forest System lands is necessary and why lands under other ownership cannot be used. Forest Service policy goes on to state “Deny proposals for use of National Forest System lands when the request is based solely on affording the proponent with a lower cost or less restrictive location than can be obtained on non-Federal lands”. A significant part of your rationale for the use of Great North Mountain focuses on needing to generate power within a 100 mile radius of Washington DC. A cursory look of that 100 mile radius shows numerous opportunities for your proposal in areas other than national forest. Some of these areas exist in the ocean; which is said to provide the best wind resources near D.C., other areas exist in the Chesapeake Bay, and on dozens and dozens of ridgelines in VA, MD, WV, and PA. I believe there are ample opportunities to implement your project in areas other than National Forest System lands and your proposal does not provide sufficient rationale as to why these areas can not be utilized.
If you choose to consider pursuing another wind proposal on National Forest land, the proposal must address Forest Plan compliance requirements and provide a sufficient justification for why private lands can not be utilized. Should you have any questions or concerns please contact District Ranger James Smalls at 540-984-4101.
/s/Maureen T. Hyzer
MAUREEN T. HYZER
Download original document: “Denial of permission for met towers in George Washington National Forest”
Author: BP Wind Energy North America
Download original document: “BP Option Agreement”
Download original document: “BP Wind Energy Easement Agreement”