Greenbrier County residents say developers of the Beech Ridge Energy wind turbine project have failed to successfully determine the impact to the community.
The group Mountain Communities For Responsible Energy argued their case before the state Supreme Court on Wednesday. Attorney Justin St. Clair wants the High Court to do away with the decision of the state Public Service Commission granting the site based on 25 contingencies. St. Clair told justices he’s concerned the group won’t be able to dispute that Beech Ridge has met all of the requirements.
St. Clair says Beech Ridge hasn’t said what impact the 23 miles of ridge top turbines would have on very important things in Greenbrier County.
“We’re talking about the cultural resources of the community, their churches, their schools, their recreation area and their historic landmarks,” he said.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Spike Maynard reminded St. Clair that MeadWestVaco, which owns most of the land that the turbines will be built on, also has rights.
“Let’s not forget their are property rights on both sides of this,” Mayard said.
Greenbrier County resident Jeffrey Eisenbeiss also spoke to the court. He claims the state Public Service Commission doesn’t have wind energy experts on staff and leaned heavily on experts hired by Beech Ridge to make its final decision.
“There’s no justice in that,” he said. “There has to be an unbiased search by the Public Service Commission to see both sides of the battle and there’se not. It’s teh power of the purse against the power of the citizens.”
Eisenbeiss asked the Supreme Court to write an opinion to serve the public.
Attorneys for the state Public Service Commission and labor groups argued in favor of the PSC process and the benefits of the project. Beech Ridge says the building of the turbines would create 200 part-time and 20 full-time jobs. The company has projected more than a half-million dollars in state and local taxes.
Chief Justice Maynard and Justice Robin Davis both said during Wednesday’s arguments the Supreme Court’s involvement in the case may be premature. The PSC says there would be a chance for opponents to challenge Beech Ridge’s meeting of the 25 contingencies.
The Supreme Court will likely hand down its written before the current term ends in late June.
9 January 2008
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