One of the largest wind farms proposed for the region is under construction along Grassy Ridge adjacent to the Dominion Power Plant at Mount Storm.
With up to 200 turbines planned the project has been approved by the West Virginia Public Service Commission and received permits to begin construction.
Work has been continuing at the site since early fall with land clearing and road construction.
Foundations for the towers that will support the turbines are also under construction, according to Tim O’Leary, spokesman for the NedPower Mount Storm wind project.
NedPower, a Dutch company, is the developer of the project.
The company has also developed wind farms in India and Germany and is looking to develop one in Ireland as well.
O’Leary said of the Mount Storm project recently, “You’ll see an increase in activity come spring and by late spring the turbine parts will begin to come to be erected during the summer. ”
He said the project is expected to be commissioned by the end of the year.
O’Leary and other representatives of the project met with county officials and others in Mount Storm recently to update them on the status of the project, according to Grant County Commission President Jim Wilson.
“This is going to provide some much needed money for some of those landowners,” Wilson said, noting that the lease fee for each of the turbines is $4,000.
He also said that O’Leary indicated that Grassy Ridge Road will need to be shut down during periods when some of the tower and turbine parts are trucked in.
“They talked about the size of them and it’s hard to fathom just how big they are going to be,” he said.
David Friend, marketing and sales with U.S. WindForce, said his company has a smaller wind farm project proposed for Grant County, not far from the NedPower project, as well as two others in Western Maryland.
He said the one in Grant County and one of the two in Western Maryland are expected to be constructed in 2008.
He said that the project on Savage Mountain, located in both Allegany and Garrett counties, has been held up because of the need to complete reclamation from prior strip mining operations at the site.
“That was finished in September so now we have the green light to get going,” Friend said, adding that the project has received its permits from the state.
Another project of U.S. WindForce in Mineral County on Green Mountain also is still on the books, though permits have not yet been issued.
Friend said that both projects are going to be less visible than the state’s only operating wind farm in Tucker County.
He said the reason is that they are not in a single strip but in “a series of bumps, kind of like a washboard,” so they won’t be visible from the roads, which he said are down in the valleys and not close to the turbines.
He said he believes it is only a small percentage of residents of the area that are opposed to the wind farms.
Opponents of the NedPower project at Mount Storm filed a suit in circuit court seeking reversal of the Public Service Commission’s approval of the project.
Judge Phil Jordan ruled against them and the project has moved forward.
The opponents are now appealing to the state Supreme Court to overturn the ruling.
The high court is slated to hear arguments in April. There was no legal action to halt the project pending the appeal.
Friend said that while there were a number of bills relating to wind farms pending in the West Virginia legislature, he didn’t believe any of them would have a significant impact on the company’s project plans.
One successful bill calls for an in-depth study of wind power and a six-month moratorium on new projects pending the results of the study.
Synergics has also proposed a wind farm in Garrett County. The project has not yet been permitted.
Clipper Windpower Development is another company that has proposed a 40-turbine wind farm on Backbone Mountain in Garrett County. Officials of that company said they hope to break ground this year.
The project has also been challenged in the courts on environmental issues.
Legislation pending in the Maryland General Assembly would make it easier to build large wind power projects by not requiring that they get approval from the Public Service Commission and would eliminate environmental reviews that look at the potential impact on wildlife, endangered species and forest fragmentation.
That bill has come under attack by environmentalists.
Sen. President Mike V. Miller said the goal of the bill is to preserve the environment, not hurt it.
Many of the turbines that will eventually be located in the Potomac Highlands, Western Maryland and southwestern Pennsylvania are being shipped through the Port of Baltimore.
The first shipment in a series of wind turbine parts arrived at the port on Dec. 12, according to Brooks Royster, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration, who indicated the turbines are being imported from various locations around the world.
The first wind farms in the region were located in Meyersdale and Somerset, Pa. Pennsylvania has continued to approve additional wind farms and the state now boasts 179 in eight operating wind farms.
Five additional sites are being considered.
March 25, 2007
Mona Ridder can be reached at email@example.com.
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