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Windforce sets open house in Keyser on turbine proposal

KEYSER, W.Va. – Information about wind generation and the first wind turbine project proposed for Mineral County will be available at a public open house on Monday, from 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM at the Wind Lea Banquet and Conference Center.

U.S. Windforce, headquartered in Wexford, Pa., has proposed the development of the Pinnacle wind farm southwest of Keyser on Green Mountain.

“The purpose of the open house is to share information about the project,” said Mary Green of Ann Green Communications, a public relations agency representing U.S. Windforce.

“U.S. Windforce will also solicit information regarding the project area, including cultural and historic resources and other input that the public might offer,” she said.

It has been more than two years since U.S. WindForce first announced proposed wind projects in both Maryland and West Virginia, three of which are to be located in the local region, one on Savage Mountain in Allegany County, another at Mount Storm in Grant County and the one in Mineral County.

Windforce officials, Joe Trainor, vice president of operations, and Jim Cookman, vice president of development, have made presentations to local clubs and other groups to provide information on the projects over the last two years.

Mineral County Commissioner Wayne Spiggle has expressed skepticism concerning the proliferation of wind farms in the area but also noted that county commissioners have no control over the projects in terms of approval.

He said he wanted to see more study of issues relating to the projects, such as the impact on wildlife and other environmental concerns.

That is the responsibility of the West Virginia Public Service Commission.

Mineral County Commissioner Cindy Pyles said she is more interested in knowing what kind of benefits the county is likely to receive.

“What do we get out of it?” she said.

In the case of the NedPower/Shell project operating at Mount Storm adjacent to the Dominion coal-fired generating plant in Grant County, the county receives tax revenue.

The project currently has 82 turbines on line and plans on constructing another 50 of the 380-foot towers topped by computerized “cels” that control the generation of electricity through the rotation of three 145-foot blades on each tower.

The project has been supported by that county’s commissioners.

Questions such as those concerning the environment, where the electricity generated will be transmitted, and the rights and responsibilities of the company in leasing sites for turbines will be among issues discussed at Monday’s meeting.

By Mona Ridder

Cumberland Times-News

29 April 2008