The prospect of a wind farm near Mentone has some area residents up in arms.
Paul Copleman, communications manager for Iberdrola Renewables said the company is examining the “possibility” of placing a wind farm in the area, but said that it’s “premature” to say that a plant is being planned. Copleman said the plant is eyeing property in Georgia.
“We have just began what will be a multi-year process of examining whether or not a wind farm in the area would even be feasible,” he said.
Copleman said it typically takes about three to five years to develop a wind farm.
“We’re looking at different parts of some elevated terrain in Georgia as a possible site,” he said.
A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in the same location used to produce electricity.
Iberdrola Renewables, which specializes in wind power, is a Spanish multinational corporation, headquartered in Valencia but with subsidiaries in the United States, including one in Philadelphia, Penn., where Copleman is based.
The company is the world’s largest supplier of renewable energy and the world’s largest operator of wind farms but also operates in the solar, hydro and wave power industries.
Neal Whitt, president of the Mentone Arts Council, and others in the area, are opposed to a wind farm on Lookout Mountain.
An informational meeting is planned for Saturday at Pam Vias’s lodge at 30833 Highway 157, about 3.3 miles north of the blinking light in Cloudland.
In an online forum for the Mentone Area Arts Council, Whitt said he fears the proposed wind farm project could “change the complexion of Lookout Mountain for the next 25 years.”
Whitt said that a sales representative has been presenting contracts to landowners in the area, suggesting the wind farm may be planned in a small area in Chattooga and Walker counties.
He said he’s worried that even though it will take three to five years for environmental studies and formation of contracts, leases could be signed in the near future.
“Iberdrola is apparently intending to close the deals before the community as a whole is aware of the project and can organize to fight it,” Whitt said.
He cited concerns such as visual, noise and light pollution; wear and tear on country roads; geological changes related to construction efforts; decline in property values and a decrease in tourism as possible negative impacts of wind farm construction on Lookout Mountain. He also lists a decrease in commercial business value and ecological damage as possible concerns.
“The camps, farming and other industries may be harshly impacted by potential water table damage,” he said. “This area is the watershed for all three branches of Little River, one of the most pristine rivers in the country, which, in turn, flows into the Coosa River Basin. The water table is of paramount importance to the Little River Canyon National Preserve, a part of the National Park Service.”
Whitt said those who live on Lookout Mountain, “need to prove to Iberdrola that we will fight this incursion tooth and nail. We need every resource to go against a multi-billion dollar corporation that has set its eye on an area they think is easy pickings. [We] win now or lose Lookout Mountain as we know it forever – win now or live with noise, light, visual and geological pollution.”
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