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Wind farms are unwelcome in West Virginia's Mountains  

I find it odd that a state that has such a large percentage of revenue coming from tourism provided by persons who visit us to experience the beauty of our mountains would allow wind farms to exist here. Structure and support funding for skiing, spelunking, rafting, hunting, hiking, fishing, biking and other outdoor activities would much better fill the list of things to enhance our beautiful state – not a farm of minimally useful, 25 percent efficient, 400-plus foot towers with 100-foot blades spinning the bats and birds to oblivion at 180 plus miles-per-hour. Many West Virginia laws have been written to protect our fragile environment, but they don’t seem to apply to catastrophic damage caused by wind farms.

So now, AES Corp. has finally applied to erect their wind farm on Laurel Mountain, stretching from west of Crystal Springs, near Aggregates, to well north of Belington along the ridgeline, shadowing the “Battle of Laurel Hill” Civil War re-enactment site.

I hear phrases from advocates like: think of global warming, for the children, and green future, but I’ve become quite cynical with the base science behind many of the green issues over the years and have little patience for their common scare tactics. I can only pray I never hear the term eminent domain associated with these monstrous structures. We’ve been told building wind farms is the “green” thing to do and we should feel good about ourselves helping the big eastern cities keep up with their power demands.

So what’s wrong with building wind farms? Here’s just a sample of reasons you can easily find. Visit laurelmountainpreservationassociation.org for detailed information and links to other sites concerned with wind farms and their effects on our ecology.

Wind turbines kill birds and bats, and not enough studies have been done to know how serious this problem really is. The head of the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club said about the Backbone Mountain wind plant, “I believe this wind plant already has greatly exceeded the largest-ever bat kill event reported for a wind energy facility. In addition, the total number of bats killed on an annual basis at this wind plant is likely to surpass the mortality level reported at any other wind energy facility in the nation.” Bats eat 50 to 100 percent of their body weight in insects each night and are a very important part of our ecology.

These turbines cause damage to the environment from road construction and would break up mountain habitat. Stripping ridge tops causes enormous damage. The Potomac River watershed which extends from headwaters in the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia to the Chesapeake Bay is important because it creates habitats where the food chain begins. Overhead trees intercept rainfall so that it gently penetrates the ground as groundwater rather than flowing overland as runoff or being captured as storm drainage directed into our streams. Increased storm drainage results in habitat destruction within streams and the consequent death of aquatic organisms, including trout. Additional threats to trout occur because of decreased groundwater recharge. Groundwater accumulates calcium ions where it flows through limestone or shale.

Wind energy is neither an environmentally sound solution, nor is it a cost-effective technology. The wind’s intermittency prevents it from replacing traditional energy sources such as coal-burning power plants and nuclear plants. The wind isn’t predictable. The windmills only operate during optimal wind conditions. They don’t operate with low wind or no wind, and they are “feathered” or shut down during high wind. Most of the windmills power is generated during the winter and at night. The wind farm cannot store energy during these periods to use it when it’s most needed – during the summer. And, a wind farm on Laurel Mountain produces no power for Barbour or Randolph counties. The generated power will be placed on a power grid where it’s sold on the greater market.

Wind farms will reduce property values. Although beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, I wonder who considers rattling windows, humming walls, flickering lights, 100-foot blades spinning overhead, giant metal towers, dirt supply roads, reduced wildlife and dying streams an alternative to trees, wildlife and West Virginia’s inherently serene beauty.

And finally, let’s face it. The turbines are unsightly. They would compromise the scenic beauty of northcentral West Virginia’s two most beautiful mountain counties.

If you oppose AES’s Laurel Mountain wind farm, please call, write or e-mail your local elected officials and legislators. And you need to write your concerns to the state Public Service Commission at the following address: Sandra Squire, Executive Secretary, P.O. Box 812, Charleston W.Va. 25323

I am learning that the real driving force of this project is apparently nothing more than simple profit, mostly to be made by people that don’t give a damn about West Virginia. They give us nothing in return except a deterioration of our ecology, so I say no to AES and their Laurel Mountain wind farm.

It isn’t energy that concerns the developers, it’s the millions of dollars from tax-free profits and incentives they gain. In the end, if the Laurel Mountain wind farm is built, perhaps our state motto should be changed to read, “Mountaineers are always free, except from ambitious people.”

John Wilcox

Elkins

The InterMountain

23 February 2008

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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