A Virginia power company is conducting studies on a site along the Randolph-Barbour county line for a windmill project that could provide electricity to up to 35,000 homes.
If studies confirm the initial evaluation that the site is ideal for windmills, AES, of Arlington, Va., could begin erecting 60 windmills in the Laurel Mountain area as soon as 2009, AES Managing Director Charlie Falter said.
Two temporary 50-meter meteorological towers at the site now measure the wind speed and direction at different heights on the tower. Falter said the company plans to collect data from those towers for another 18 months.
If all goes as planned, AES will submit an application to the Public Service Commission early next year to erect windmills on the property, which extends about eight miles along the ridge.
West Virginia now has one wind farm – the Mountaineer Project on Backbone Mountain in Tucker County – but the PSC has approved three other projects.
AES, which operates 120 power facilities in 26 countries, is not affiliated with any of the other West Virginia projects.
A recent report requested by Congress suggests that wind farms could generate as much as 7 percent of U.S. electricity in 15 years but scientists say the threat the spinning blades pose to birds and bats needs further study.
Many residents living near wind mill projects also often oppose them, saying they hurt property values and spoil scenic views.
Falter said public meetings will be scheduled soon to generate feedback from residents and address their concerns.
The Associated Press
10 May 2007
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