A second industrial wind energy project has been proposed for construction in the George Washington National Forest along the Shenandoah Mountain ridgeline bordering Virginia and West Virginia, according to Friends of Beautiful Pendleton County officials.
FreedomWorks LLC, based out of Delaware with offices in Harper’s Ferry, has proposed 131 turbines that would extend from Rockingham County along the state line at Shenandoah County and Hardy County, according to FOBPC Vice President Larry Thomas, who discovered the project while searching the Federal Aviation Agency’s Web site.
The first proposed project would be constructed on Shenandoah Mountain in Pendleton and Hardy counties crossing into a portion of Rockingham County, Va.
“If the projects were allowed to be constructed in the GW National Forest, there would be industrial wind turbines on the mountain top from approximately Route 55 to the north to Route 33 to the south,” Thomas said. That would “greatly impact” Pendleton County also, he said.
The 131 turbines, each 440 feet tall, would cover 18 miles of ridgecrest, according to private consultant D. Daniel Boone, a conservation biologist and policy analyst.
Ninety turbines would be located in Virginia with the other 41 in Hardy County, according to Boone.
Boone prepared a map stipulating each turbine based upon the coordinates provided in the 7460-1 applications filed with the Federal Aviation Agency by an unknown developer.
“Each wind turbine has a separate 7460-1 application filed with FAA,” Boone said.
Boone also examined October 2006 aerial photos covering the entire ridge length where this proposed project would occur.
“Other than a powerline and one small road which crosses between Hardy and Shenandoah counties, the project area is completely undisturbed forest with no sign of logging roads or clearcuts,” Boone stated.
In Boone’s estimation this project “would destroy over 500 acres of forest and, additionally, will cause extensive forest fragmentation likely wiping out over 2,500 acres of forest-interior habitat – about four square miles.”
Chris Rose, George Washington Jefferson National Forest spokesman, said the project is still in the pre-application stage.
“Before the Forest Service can accept the application, the company must check with the relevant government agencies such as the FAA and the Department of Defense,” Rose said.
After getting that clearance, then the company would make formal application to the Forest Service for one or two sites, not the entire wind farm, Rose explained.
Various tests would be conducted on those sites for such things as “whether the wind turbines would impede birds and bats or whether there is enough wind to sustain the wind turbines,” Rose said.
“If the tests are successful, there would be a second set of applications,” Rose said.
The Forest Service would also conduct public involvement studies and resources analyses. “This is not going to happen next week or next month. This is not yet researched – it will take a while for the initial process,” Rose said.
According to FreedomWorks’ Web site, www.freedomworksllc.net, the company is a renewable energy development company whose “primary aim is to harvest renewable energy. FreedomWorks recognizes U.S. energy independence from foreign oil and sustainability are mutually inclusive. The gap between energy demand and domestic energy capacity shall be filled to assure future security of America. However, if the gap is not filled through renewable energy resources the sustainability of America cannot be assured.”
By Joan Ashley
26 March 2008
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