A proposed wind farm in Ashe County should not be allowed because it violates the state’s Ridge Law, the public staff of the N.C. Utilities Commission said yesterday.
The staff’s statement of position becomes part of the record as the six members of the Utilities Commission consider whether or not to approve an application to build 25 to 28 wind turbines in the Creston community.
The Ridge Law contains a limited exception for windmills. Robert Gruber, executive director of the Utilities Commission, said that the staff’s position against the wind farm is based on a previous statement by Attorney General Roy Cooper. In a 2002 letter, Cooper wrote that the term windmills meant only “the traditional, solitary farm windmill which has long been in use in rural communities” and not wind turbines.
The wind turbines would be 300 or more feet each.
The utilities commission staff said it agrees with Cooper that wind turbines are not “windmills,” but are instead “tall buildings or structures” that are illegal under the ridge law.
The Attorney General’s office also says it intends to monitor the wind farm issue and get involved if necessary.
“We intervened because we think the case is potentially important to consumers,” Cooper spokeswoman Noelle Talley said today. The attorney general’s office has intervened through its consumer-protection division, which it can do in matters before the state utilities commission, she said.
Ashe County commissioners will consider an ordinance governing wind-generation systems. The special meeting begins at 5 p.m. today at the Ashe County Courthouse in Jefferson. A public hearing there last week by the Utilities Commission drew several hundred people.
Journal Staff Report
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