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Highland wind farm bill blown out of the Senate  

A bill which would have eased environmental restrictions for a controversial wind farm slated for construction in Highland County has stalled in committee. As previously reported in the Hook, Senate Bill 324, introduced by State Senator Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach), would have exempted all electric facilities that generate and distribute renewable energy with a capacity of no more than 50 megawatts.

The bill would have affected the proposed wind farm planned for the mountainous rural area 70 miles northwest of Charlottesville in Highland County. If completed, the project would be the state’s first utility-scale wind generation facility. Highland New Wind LLC, the company planning the development, has faced harsh criticism from area residents and environmental experts as well as numerous legal and logistical challenges.

Rick Webb, a senior scientist at UVA and a nationally recognized wind energy expert, believed that passage of the bill was crucial to the Highland County wind farm’s success. He strongly opposed the bill because, as he explained, it would have opened the door “for a proliferation of unregulated 49-megawatt wind projects in western Virginia and around the Chesapeake Bay.”

Highland Wind LLC, however, is unaffected by the bill’s failure to move forward in the Senate, according to company spokesperson Frank Maisano. He says that the project “will be finished by the end of the year,” and that the bill would never have affected the wind farm’s future in the first place.

By Laura Burns

The Hook

14 February 2008

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

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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