This is to dispute recent propagandized information provided to area citizens from a green money-motivated industry posing as a green energy hero. A Chicago-based corporation, Invenergy, proposes to lay claim to our area mountain winds, beginning with 18 industrial-sized wind turbines on Roanoke County’s Poor Mountain.
Wind energy is best captured with the latest technology that uses battery storage for this sporadic energy source: residential-sized wind generators – not the 443-foot, industrial-sized turbines proposed for Roanoke County, a height much taller than most turbines in other locations.
The industrial turbines can operate at only 25 percent maximum of the industry’s claimed efficiency rate due to our area being in the lowest acceptable wind classification. AEP was recently denied its request to accept inefficient and uneven wind energy, which would have necessitated increased customer bills (“Board rejects Appalachian bid on wind,” June 4 news story).
Industrial-scale turbines require highly efficient and stable energy, such as coal or natural gas, to maintain on-demand availability of electrical power. This requires coal-generated power to be turned up and down, since wind is variable in presence and strength. Fluctuation in the coal-powered operation increases pollution.
Furthermore, this project does not have a capacity for wind energy storage.
Citizens of the Roanoke Valley and Southwest Virginia need to research scientific sources that are not connected with the industrial wind turbine industry. In my research, I have found that mountainous areas have a greater diameter of area affected by industrial-scale turbines than flat land.
Large quantities of low-frequency sound and vibrations, measured on a “C” scale in decibels, are emitted from the industrial wind turbines. These sounds and vibrations cause insomnia, headaches, seizures and nausea, and eventually take a heavy toll on general human health and work productivity.
The specifics of this are most recently presented in “Audiology Today.” This negatively influenced area in mountainous terrain extends to a four-mile diameter from each turbine tower.
Other health-related problems such as shadow flicker (turbine lights and sunlight chopped by the rotating blades) can cause headaches, nausea and vertigo. Also, ice and snow thrown from blades travel more than one-quarter mile (three city blocks) from the great turbine heights.
The presently proposed site locations on Poor Mountain, the tallest mountain (3,928 feet) in the area, has its own set of unusual characteristics. Transmitter towers for radio, television and safety communications occupy a small portion of this mountain. The chopping effect of turbine blades can affect the transmitting waves of these communication towers.
Increased flight path height may be required, due to the very tall rotating blades proposed, and would be another potential hazard for aviators landing at Roanoke’s airport.
Environmental threats include concentrated kills of migratory birds and insect-eating bats from turbine blades and air pressure; high erosion potential of unique, fragile and shallow mountain soils; and water reduction (spring destruction). The latter two pose significant problems downstream for the state-designated Tier 3 Bottom Creek, stemming from construction, anchoring and clearing methods used for three acres per turbine (one acre = one football field). There are only 30 Tier 3-described streams – exceptional state waters – in Virginia.
To describe the extent of the proposed towers’ low-frequency noise vibrations by familiar locations in Roanoke, the area would include: Round Hill School, Valley View; the New Yorker Deli, Williamson Road; Gus Nicks Boulevard at Orange Avenue; Mount Pleasant at the Blue Ridge Parkway; Roanoke Mountain; Tanglewood Mall; beyond Patrick Henry High School; Fairview Cemetery, Melrose; and back to Round Hill.
The height of each turbine would be five times as tall as the Roanoke Star. A turbine placed at Crystal Spring near Roanoke Memorial Hospital would be far more than half the height of Mill Mountain itself.
Many homes and property would be devalued in this sizable area. As real estate values decline and residents’ health problems increase, the industry can use taxpayers’ money to encroach on more lands to increase turbine locations, devaluing more homeowners’ investments and lives.
Roanoke County invested millions of dollars in a new recreation and aquatic center to draw people to relocate here. Industrial wind turbines will deter potential new residents and make current residents move away.
Don’t let the winds of this fad blow away your common sense. The green that the turbine industry is after is taxpayers’ money for their own pockets. Research the effects yourselves, Roanokers.
Scott is a self-employed soil scientist who has worked in the Roanoke area for 27 years and lived in Southwest Roanoke County since childhood.
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