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BLUEFIELD, Va. – Dominion Resources announced Wednesday that it is acquiring 100-percent ownership of a 2,600 acre tract of land on East River Mountain for the purpose of developing the proposed Bluestone River Wind Farm.
A deed transferring the full ownership of the property to Dominion will be recorded today at the Tazewell County Courthouse. Emil Avram, director of business development for Dominion, said BP, or British Petroleum, an original co-developer of the project, will no longer be involved with the East River Mountain development.
Avram said Dominion still believes the wind turbine project will create jobs, income and economic opportunities for Tazewell County.
“Dominion and BP have agreed to separately develop, construct and operate our projects in Virginia,” Dominion spokesman Ryan Frazier said. “Dominion will have 100 percent ownership of the Bluestone.”
BP and Dominion jointly purchased the property in 2008 with a vision of developing a large-scale wind farm near Bluefield, Va. Avram said Dominion remains committed to developing the $200 million project.
“I would say no changes to the plan other than Dominion will be the sole developer of the property,” Avram said.
Avram said wind energy studies continue at the East River Mountain site. He said Dominion has no time table for construction of the project.
“We don’t have a timeline for construction and operation of the potential facility,” Avram said. “A lot depends on the local government.”
Avarm said Dominion is still hopeful that the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors will amend the recently adopted ridgeline protection ordinance to allow for the construction of wind turbines on East River Mountain. Avarm said the company hasn’t sought a variance or an appeal from the county at this time although it remains an option.
“Just to be clear, Gov. (Bob) McDonnell is very keen on making Virginia the new energy capital of the East (Coast),” Frazier said. “They’ve asked us to help make that happen.”
As the sole property owner, Avram said Dominion once again hopes to be a good, tax-paying neighbor, in Tazewell County.
“In the future, we would like to be a much larger tax payer assuming the (wind) farm is built,” Avram said.
“Of course we know Tazewell County has coal and natural gas,” Frazier added. “It also could be a leader in the renewable energy field.”
Avram said Dominion hopes to educate the community about the benefits of the project while addressing incorrect myths. For example, Avram said allegations that the project will negatively impact property values and tourism are considered incorrect by the company.
“There have been extensive studies done – very rigorous studies – that show no impact on property values and increases in tourism,” Avram said.
Frazier said Dominion is hoping the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors will take another look at the benefits of the Bluestone River Wind Farm.
“We cannot move forward with this project without the support of Tazewell County and its citizens,” Frazier said.
Frazier said Dominion considers the East River Mountain project to be a long-term development.
“We consider it to be a viable long-term development,” Frazier said. “But at this time we don’t have a timeline.”
Dominion and BP purchased 2,600 acres of land on East River Mountain near Bluefield, Va. in late 2008 for the development of the wind turbine farm. However, the project hit an unexpected road block last year when the so-called ridgeline protection ordinance was adopted by the county Board of Supervisors on a 3-2 vote.
The ordinance essentially prohibits the construction of structures more than 40 feet in height along certain protected ridgelines, including East River Mountain and Burkes Garden.
In an earlier letter to the Daily Telegraph, David A. Christian, the chief executive officer of Dominion Generation, said the wind turbines along East River’s ridgeline would deliver new jobs and economic opportunities for the residents of Tazewell County while providing millions of dollars in revenue for the county.
According to Christian, the project would provide an estimated $10 million in revenue to county coffers over the next 20 years while creating another $10 million in local products and services for Tazewell County.
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