Two anti-windfarm advocates will present oral arguments today to the state Supreme Court that their cases should be added to the high court’s docket in hopes of stopping a planned $300 million project slated for northern Greenbrier County.
Mountain Communities For Responsible Energy, along with Jeffrey and Alicia Eisenbeiss, filed the petitions after the state Public Service Commission’s landmark decision last fall giving the green light to a wind energy developer’s request to build 124 turbines along 23 miles of ridgeways owned primarily by MeadWestvaco.
Although MCRE’s appeal has asked the court to reverse and dismiss the PSC’s decision granting a citing certificate to Beech Ridge Energy, the Eisenbeiss’ appeal goes one step further. The Renick couple, who have filed their petition pro se – without the aid of a lawyer – will also ask the Supreme Court to hand down an opinion forcing the PSC to follow stricter guidelines when giving out permits to wind developers. The Eisenbiesses reside close to the proposed windfarm site and believe the turbines will negatively affect their property value and personal lives.
In January, the PSC denied four anti-windfarm appeals, including Eisenbiess’ and MCRE’s, and removed the case from its active docket.
“MCRE does not believe that Beech Ridge or the commission complied with the letter and spirit of the commission’s own rules and, as a result of this noncompliance, MCRE does not believe that the potential impact of the project on the communities within the local vicinity were adequately considered,” MCRE spokesman Dave Buhrman said Tuesday.
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Although the appeals were filed against the PSC, Beech Ridge, a subsidiary of the Chicago-based company Invenergy, petitioned the Supreme Court to participate in the hearings. Union representatives of the construction trades will also argue on behalf of the PSC. Before rendering any decision, the high court must first vote to accept the case for review.
“We are defending the commission’s decision to grant a citing certificate to Beech Ridge,” Dave Groberg, director of business development for Invenergy, said Tuesday.
The decision to hear the case will most likely by made within a week of the oral arguments, according to court information services director Jennifer Bundy. If so, the full case could be heard during the fall term of the court later this year.
Last August, the PSC granted the building permit to Beech Ridge, citing the nation’s need for clean, renewable energy outweighed the negative aspects of the project. Anti-windfarm advocates chiefly believe the 400-foot-tall turbines will decrease property values, kill birds and bats and spoil the scenery.
By Christian Giggenbach
17 April 2007
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