On the evening of Dec. 10, we attended a public meeting â€śfor temporary roadway improvements on Randolph County 250/9 and Barbour County 15 and U.S. 33,â€ť concerning routes being considered by AES Corp. and the West Virginia Department of Transportation, Division of Highways, to supply a roadway for wind turbines to be transported to Laurel Mountain. AES Corp. has provided a $10,000 deposit to the West Virginia Department of Transportation pertaining to the agreement executed on Oct. 4. We oppose any services that the West Virginia Department of Transportation may be providing for this project.
In the agreement, it is stated that â€śDepartment considers it to be in the public interest to cooperate with developer to facilitate the construction of developerâ€™s project.â€ť The wind turbine project is not in the publicâ€™s interest. The reason why the developer is constructing the wind project is that the developer will receive significant federal production tax credits for the project and extraordinary profits by selling â€śgreen energy creditsâ€ť to unsuspecting customers who believe the wind energy offsets the use of coal.
Even the developer has stated that there will be no reduction in the use of coal as a result of wind energy. The reason why there is no reduction in the use of coal is that backup electricity of at least a 15 percent reserve margin is constantly produced at West Virginiaâ€™s coal-fired plants. Generators at coal-fired plants cannot be â€śrampedâ€ť up and down to match the electricity produced when the wind blows. The wind is unpredictable.
The developer has stated that gas-fired plants can ramp up and down to match wind energy variations; however, there are no gas-fired plants in West Virginia. Approximately 70 percent of the electricity produced in West Virginia (at coal-fired plants) is already transmitted out of the state. West Virginia does not need wind energy projects to supply electricity and it is not in the public interest to have the wind project on Laurel Mountain.
Portions of the area previously used as a county landfill and as a city landfill are located along the route selected in Randolph County. At the very least, a Phase II Environmental Assessment must be performed to determine the location of the limits of the landfills. Any disturbance of the landfill material would allow potentially toxic and lethal materials to be introduced to the local area. This is not in the publicâ€™s interest.
It is unclear in the agreement whether the Department of Transportation will aid in acquiring property from landowners for the project. Will eminent domain be used for acquiring property for the project? This would not be in the publicâ€™s interest.
The $10,000 deposit paid to the DOT by the developer is described as â€śincluding, but not limited to, cost of review of project plans, including right-of-way plans, preparation of right-of-way conveyance documents, construction inspection and related work.â€ť It is not in the publicâ€™s interest for DOT employees to devote any time to a private developer.
If the DOT has extra time to devote to a private developer, perhaps there are too many employees with not enough work to do for the taxpayers of West Virginia.
Pam and Art Dodds
18 January 2008
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