Earlier this month the State Supreme Court sided with local residents in Grant County who are trying to stop a wind power project on Mount Storm.
The Supreme Court sent the lawsuit back to Circuit Court where the case had been dismissed. But even as the lawsuit moves forward, the wind power project is taking shape.
Emily Corio reports.
Emily Corio (EC): The turbine’s towers are being hauled up the mountain on the back of big rigs, making their way to the top of Mount Storm. Shell Wind Energy plans to put 82 turbines on this mountain with the possibility of adding 50 more. The project’s been in the works for several years. Tim O’Leary is Shell Wind Energy’s Communications Manager.
Tim O’Leary (TO): The Mount Storm project is under construction. We began last fall, and right now we’re starting to erect the turbine bases. We had construction continue throughout the winter; it was a good winter for construction for us, so we built the roads on the project site, the turbine bases, working on the substation, and in the last month we’ve been starting to receive the turbine tower components and the cells from the manufacturer.
EC: Lawyer Richard Neely says the company continues to build at its own risk. Neely is representing people who live near the wind power site. They’ve filed a nuisance lawsuit to stop the project.
RN: If they build the project now, they cannot come into court and say but my Lord we’ve already spent a hundred million dollars and now you’re going to enjoin it, because they have notice.
EC: The lawsuit was in Grant County Circuit Court before. Judge Phillip Jordan dismissed the case, siding with the wind power company. The company says the state Public Service Commission approved, so any issues that the residents raise in their nuisance lawsuit were already addressed by the PSC.
The state supreme court said not so fast—and sent the case back to Grant County Circuit Court to be heard. Neely asked Judge Jordan to dismiss himself from the case, and this week, he agreed to.
Richard Neely (RN): In our motion, we simply said, that because the judge had decided issues that went beyond the relief asked for, and the issues that were briefed by the parties, that there was an appearance that perhaps he had some bias against the plaintiffs, and we asked him to disqualify himself based upon the proposition that there not only should be no bias but there should be no appearance of bias.
EC: Neely says the case will be assigned a new judge and then a time line will be set. In the meantime, Tim O’Leary with Shell Wind Energy says the project will go on as planned.
TO: All I can say is that you know we are, we’re committed to the project.
EC: For West Virginia Public Broadcasting, I’m Emily Corio in Morgantown.
21 June 2007
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