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Grant resident questions potential ice hazards of wind farm blades  

Dominion Power and the Grant County Commission responded to a Mount Storm resident’s concerns about the potential for ice on the blades of wind turbines this winter.

Bruce Halgren of Mount Storm appeared before commissioners Jim Wilson, Charlie Goldizen and Jim Cole Tuesday. He said that he is concerned that the proximity of some of the NedPower wind turbines being constructed along Grassy Ridge Road could present a safety hazard to motorists from ice and debris being thrown off by the turbine blades in the wintertime.

“The Public Service Commission stopped NedPower from building four of the turbines close to homes because of safety concerns,” he said.

Goldizen said it is his understanding that the turbines shut down if they become overloaded with ice.

Halgren said that he was not aware the issue had been addressed by NedPower.

Halgren said he believes the PSC, along with the commissioners and others, are on a learning curve when it comes to the wind turbines.

Wilson said he is not willing to take a stand on the issue at this time.

Halgren said that his concern focuses on three turbines, one that is 117 feet from the road, where the blades overhang the road, and two others that are 200 feet from the road.

On hand for an update of the NedPower wind turbine project at Mount Storm were Robert Orndorff and Emil Avram of Dominion Power, which purchased half of the project from Shell WindEnergy and will share in the operation of the wind farm.

Orndorff, director of state and government affairs with Dominion, addressed Halgren’s concerns as well as providing an update on Grassy Ridge Road, which has sustained damage during the construction phase of the project.

Orndorff said they will not be operating any turbine that creates a hazardous condition to the public. He said that there is an independent study currently under way on the turbine locations to determine any risk or danger to the public.

He also said that, in cooperation with the Division of Highways, Grassy Ridge Road has been tarred and chipped and is currently in excellent condition.

“This is a temporary fix this year and the project is paying for it” he said. “We will continue to work with (the Division of Highways) on what to do on a more permanent basis.”

Avram, senior business development manager for Dominion, said that as of Tuesday, eight of the turbines have been completed. He presented a photo of the first turbine to be finished and said that the company expects to have 20 turbines on line by the end of October.

“We are going to energize the substation this week or next,” he added.

Cole said that it is in everybody’s best interest to make sure there are no safety hazards, including NedPower, Dominion and Shell.

Avram said he agreed completely and the company has no interest in creating a safety hazard to the public.

Wilson added that he has been aware that the companies involved have been very safety conscious. He also said that communication between the county officials and the companies has also been very good.

Orndorff saidd that there also has been good communication with the Division of Highways, which has also been responsive to the problems of the roadway.

Halgren said he, too, believes that the DOH did a good job repairing the road and added that he appreciates the attempts to make the project and the road safe.

Orndorff said that they hope to have another media day soon when local officials and the media will be invited to tour the wind farm and see turbines in operation.

By Mona Ridder

Cumberland Times-News

27 September 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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