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BOE still backs wind turbines

The Grant County Board of Education has once again reaffirmed its support for a controversial mountaintop wind power project.

BOE members recently agreed to submit a legal document in defense of the project, which is being challenged in court by some of its detractors. Known as a “brief,” the document will be filed with the state Public Service Commission and Supreme Court of Appeals.

The brief was approved on a 5-0 vote during the BOE’s recent meeting at the Union Educational Complex. Action came after a presentation by Dennis DiBenedetto, prosecuting attorney.

DiBenedetto told board members the brief won’t cost them anything and will largely restate arguments in favor of the project already made by the BOE. Some of these arguments include a welcome for $45 million in tax revenues to be gained over the project’s lifespan.

Two schools, UEC and Maysville Elementary, are also set to gain about $35,000 per year as direct contributions from the project’s developers, NedPower and Shell Wind Energy.

DiBenedetto said project foes have been busy opposing the wind turbines, which will be erected along the Allegheny Front starting this spring. The current legal wrangle is the result of a suit filed in Tucker County Circuit Court. A previous Grant County suit has already been denied by the supreme court.

The prosecutor said the legal document will be a short one, describing it as a “brief, brief.”

Also expected to submit briefs defending the project are the Grant County Commission, city of Petersburg, Assessor Ralph Layton, Sheriff Art Puffenbarger and the Industrial Development Authority.

According to DiBenedetto. one complaint against project opponents is that many are not local residents.

School officials recently attended an informational session about the project. Member Jerry Ours said the first of 82 turbines will likely be erected in April, with all done by October. The project could be online in November.

grantcountypress.com