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Wind farms: Mollohan and Rahall are wise to ask questions now  

Must West Virginia play host to thousands of clean, green, scenery-despoiling machines to make urban environmentalists feel better? At the cost of how many birds and bats?

Environmentalists so lamented the pollution that comes from coal-fired power plants that Congress finally responded with tax incentives for other electricity generation, including the ultimate in clean – wind power.

But wind power turns out to have a NIMBY factor – Not In My Back Yard – almost as great as nuclear power plants. A lot of people don’t like how wind power is shaping up as a power source either.

Reps. Alan Mollohan and Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., have asked the investigative arm of Congress to take a look at where the rush to wind power is going.

Good for them. Mollohan cut right to the heart of the matter:

“Heaven knows that West Virginia has always stepped up to the plate to contribute to our nation’s energy security.

“But we now have a situation where speculators are staking claim to some of our most scenic areas and erecting these monstrosities that produce little energy and are made possible only by a tax credit.”

FLP Energy, based in Florida, built Mountaineer Wind Energy Center near Thomas. It has 44 windmills that generate about 66 megawatts of power, enough to power 15,000 homes.

Regulators have also approved two larger wind farms for the Allegheny Front in West Virginia. Together, these three projects would mean more than 400 windmills in one of the most beautiful parts of the state. The towers range in height from 275 to 445 feet.

Must West Virginia play host to thousands of clean, green, scenery-despoiling machines to make urban environmentalists feel better? At the cost of how many birds and bats?

Rahall points out that the area favored by wind farm developers is a flyway for hundreds of migrating species, including bald and golden eagles. An estimated 1.7 million birds pass over the Allegheny Front.

Rahall and Mollohan want the General Accounting Office to investigate windmill proposals, their potential effects on the Potomac Highlands and their potential effects on wildlife. West Virginia’s congressmen also want to know who is going to regulate wind farms before development goes any further.

These are all very good questions. They need to be answered now, before West Virginia’s mountains are festooned with thousands of 400-foot towers.

That would not be a victory for anything, including the environment.

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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