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County wind power debate begins  

Credit:  County Wind Power Debate Begins | By Gene Marrano | The Roanoke Star | March 12, 2010 | theroanokestar.com ~~

At a community meeting on Bent Mountain last week and before the ICLEI “green” committee on Monday, Don Giecek made the case for wind power in Roanoke County. Giecek, the business manager for Chicago-based Invenergy, traveled from his home in central Virginia to talk about a proposal to place 15 energy generating wind turbines on Poor Mountain, near the communication towers that already dot the landscape there.

Giecek heard Bent Mountain and Copper Hill residents voice concerns about lower property values and possible harm to bats and birds, if Invenergy wins approval from the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors to construct the wind turbines – more than 400’ high – on 2000 acres it has leased from local property owners.

“It’s our intent to work with the community and be a good neighbor,” said Giecek earlier this week, in responding to the panel of residents and county officials that comprise the ICLEI group. Giecek said Invenergy had been studying the site on Poor Mountain for five years. One major plus for the company: Appalachian Power Company transmission lines already cross the land where the turbines would be located.

Invenergy plans to sell the electricity generated to AEP and tap into that transmission line as a way of uploading the power created. The estimated 37.5 megawatts generated could power 8000 Roanoke County homes said Giecek. Invenergy enlisted the help of Virginia Tech professor Sean McGinnis in coming up with that figure.

McGinnis has helped both Roanoke County and Roanoke City define their carbon emissions reduction goals and according to Giecek claimed that the Poor Mountain wind turbine station alone could reduce the county’s carbon emissions by 4.6% a year. “Roanoke County has made significant strides towards the reduction of carbon emissions,” noted Giecek.

A three million dollar capital investment would create 50-100 part time temporary jobs during the construction phase and 2-3 full time salaried positions said Giecek. The DEQ must issue permits at the state level and the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors must approve other permitting before the project can move ahead.

Supervisor Ed Elswick continued to play a role in seeking to educate residents about the positives and negatives of such a project that invariably brings conflict among “green advocates” – many of whom appreciate the low carbon emissions but are torn about the significant view shed impact and other environmental issues. As for the concern about bats, “one viable solution,” said Giecek was to turn off the turbines when the creatures were most active, something he said Invenergy was willing to do.

No word on when the Board of Supervisors will take up the matter; Giecek added that a number of feasibility studies are still ongoing. Being operational by 2012 is a target.

“The estimated 37.5 megawatts generated could power 8000 Roanoke County homes,” said Giecek. Invenergy enlisted the help of Virginia Tech professor Sean McGinnis in coming up with that figure.

McGinnis has helped both Roanoke County and Roanoke City define their carbon emissions reduction goals and according to Giecek claimed that the Poor Mountain wind turbine station alone could reduce the county’s carbon emissions by 4.6% a year. “Roanoke County has made significant strides towards the reduction of carbon emissions,” noted Giecek.

“A three million dollar capital investment would create 50-100 part time temporary jobs during the construction phase and 2-3 full time salaried positions,” said Giecek. The DEQ must issue permits at the state level and the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors must approve other permitting before the project can move ahead.

Supervisor Ed Elswick continued to play a role in seeking to educate residents about the positives and negatives of such a project, that invariably brings conflict among “green advocates” – many of whom appreciate the low carbon emissions but are torn about the significant view shed impact and other environmental issues. As for the concern about bats, “one viable solution,” said Giecek was to turn off the turbines when the creatures were most active, something he said Invenergy was willing to do.

No word on when the Board of Supervisors will take up the matter; Giecek added that a number of feasibility studies are still ongoing. The company is targeting being operational by 2012.

Source:  County Wind Power Debate Begins | By Gene Marrano | The Roanoke Star | March 12, 2010 | theroanokestar.com

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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