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Energy Giant Dominion Buys Half of Wind Farm: ; Proposed Grant County Turbines Spark Opposition From Some Residents

A Virginia energy giant has bought a 50 percent stake in a Grant County wind turbine project that is the subject of a case before the state Supreme Court.

Dominion, one of the nation’s largest energy producers, announced Monday it plans to develop the first phase of a 200-turbine wind farm near Mount Storm, a project that some residents are trying to block.

In a news release, Dominion said the $300 million project gives the Virginia company an opportunity to increase its renewable energy portfolio.

“Our venture into the wind-energy market is another step we are taking to improve the region’s environment,” Dominion CEO Tom Farrell said in the statement.

The facility is to be built near Dominion’s coal-fired Mount Storm Power Station.

NedPower Mount Storm LLC proposed the $300 million project in 2005, and was then purchased by Houston-based Shell Windenergy Inc., a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell.

In October, the state Supreme Court unanimously agreed to hear an appeal by residents of a Grant County Circuit Court ruling that dismissed their attempt to halt construction of the project. Circuit Court Judge Phil Jordan ruled he did not have jurisdiction in the case, since the state Public Service Commission had already approved the project.

Charleston attorney Richard Neely, representing the residents, said the project will discourage people from building homes in the Eastern Panhandle county.

“You’ve got potentially thousands of people in Grant County whose property values will be destroyed,” he said.

A Dominion representative did not immediately return a telephone call Monday seeking comment.

Court spokeswoman Jennifer Bundy said the justices will hear arguments in the case sometime between March 14 and May 22.

The Grant County project would be located near a proposed 166- turbine facility planned by US Wind Force LLC.

Both projects, planned along the Allegheny Front, would dwarf the state’s lone existing wind farm, the 44-tower Wind Energy Center in nearby Tucker County.

The value of wind turbine facilities has been questioned not only by residents, but also by Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., whose district includes Grant and Tucker counties.

According to a representative from Mollohan’s office, a study by the National Research Council on the viability of wind power in West Virginia expected to be released this week has been delayed until late January or early February.

By Tom Breen

Source: Charleston Gazette, The