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Do due diligence on turbines  

Credit:  Dave Trible, The Roanoke Times, www.roanoke.com 21 September 2010 ~~

I am a fan of renewable energy. I anticipate the day when I am able to afford a small wind turbine, solar panels and possibly geothermal to supply most, if not all, of the energy that I and my family seem to require. Energy provided by the sun, wind and earth only makes sense to me.

If life were only that simple. You see, even the best-laid plans can have inherent failures.

I am speaking of the proposed wind farm on Poor Mountain. In theory, the concept is perfect. After all, the mountain is already impacted by existing towers, transmission lines are near, and the wind supply appears to be sufficient. This is all true. However, there are other details that must be considered.

Poor Mountain serves as the catchment for Bottom Creek, a fantastic headwater drainage that supports the endangered Roanoke logperch, a fish species native to Upper Roanoke River headwater drainages such as Bottom Creek. Certainly, erosion will take place and sediment from construction of an industrial wind farm on 2,000 acres will make its way to Bottom Creek, thereby impacting the health of the stream and its inhabitants.

Another endangered species to consider in all of this is the Indiana bat. We’ve all heard the stories about bats, birds and wind farms. A successful mix it is not.

What about the impact that low-frequency sound from the 443-foot behemoth wind turbines have on the health of nearby residents? What about land values?

Should it be the burden of Bent Mountain and Poor Mountain residents to accept possible health problems, lost property value and environmental degradation for energy that is likely transmitted to some far-off place? And if so, is there any compensation to the affected residents?

So I ask, has Roanoke County looked past the revenues it stands to inherit from this project and actually done research on the effects of low-frequency noise on nearby populations – specific to 443-foot turbines, of course? Has Virginia Tech been approached to help us better understand potential issues related to low-frequency noise?

What about impacts to the local watershed? Has anyone performed an Indiana bat survey to determine whether they exist on Poor Mountain?

Has Roanoke County determined how land values might be impacted? Has reducing the overall scale of the project been considered?

These are all very important questions, to which I guess there are few answers.

I have long felt that Roanoke County has sat on its hands on key issues such as this, particularly here on Bent Mountain (see gypsy moth, school closing). Understand, I do not oppose the Poor Mountain wind farm outright. That, of course, would be hypocritical.

I do, however, have serious concerns, particularly related to the incredible scale of this industrial operation. Some of the tallest wind turbines in the country spread over 2,000 acres. Have we not learned anything from the failings of industrial food production? Bigger is rarely better.

I myself will dedicate time to better understanding some of my own concerns. More importantly, though, I feel that it is incumbent on Roanoke County to investigate all aspects of this project, not just the bottom line, and provide the citizens of Roanoke County with a well-informed, well-researched end product that is publicly available.

Show us your effort on paper, through unbiased research. Back up your decision-making with sound evidence. Do your due diligence, Roanoke County. That is your responsibility and your job.

Dave Trible

Trible is a resident of Bent Mountain.

Source:  Dave Trible, The Roanoke Times, www.roanoke.com 21 September 2010

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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