KEYSER, W.Va. – Richard Braithwaite, who lives near Pinnacle Wind Farm on Green Mountain, presented the Mineral County Commission with a petition signed by 75 Keyser residents asking the commissioners to develop a policy stating that they will not sign a decommission agreement for more industrial wind development in the county.
Braithwaite presented the petition to the commissioners at their public meeting Tuesday.
The West Virginia Public Service Commission requires wind companies to negotiate a decommissioning agreement before a wind developer can proceed with installation of wind turbines, according to the petition. Commissioner Janice LaRue questioned how she can endorse a decommissioning policy if three years down the road someone else is sitting in her commission seat.
The two major concerns with the wind turbines are the noise that they make and the unsafe conditions that Tasker and Pinnacle roads were left in following the installation of 23 wind turbines, explained Braithwaite.
“You have got to hear (the wind turbines) to believe it. When the wind blows from the east, it sounds like a railroad train,” said Braithwaite, who noted that at its highest he measured the wind at 83.4 decibels on his portable meter.
U.S. Wind Force, LLC said the sound measured no higher than 56 decibels at the nearest residences, according to a news article provided by Allegheny Front Alliance.
However, the noise is not always constant and comes and goes depending on the wind, explained Braithwaite.
Hearing intermittent noise from wind turbines can lead to medical problems such as chronic anxiety, said Dr. Wayne Spiggle, who is a member of Allegheny Highlands Alliance. The AHA is a consortium of citizen/environment organizations from five states, and one of its goals is to inform the public about the science and the truth of wind farms. AHA opposes industrial wind in general, but not any specific project.
“In Europe, turbines are required to be located one mile away from any habitation,” said Spiggle, who noted that West Virginia doesn’t have regulations regarding wind turbine installation.
Edison Mission Energy is aware of the complaints and a study is being done on the noise level, but the results aren’t back yet, said Brad Christopher, Edison Mission Energy project manager. “Once we have the results back from the noise study, we will proceed from there,” said Christopher at Tuesday’s meeting.
An Edison Mission affiliate will meet with Green Mountain homeowners today to discuss the issues with the wind turbines. Edison purchased the Pinnacle Wind Farm from U.S. Wind Force, LLC in April.
Following the installation of the wind turbines, gravel was placed on Pinnacle Road, making it easy for cars to slide, according to Braithwaite. The gravel on Pinnacle Road was later removed and nothing else was done to repair the road, he said. There were also issues with repairs on Tasker Road.
The petition requests that the PSC order the owners of the wind project to fix the road.
“… we the people who live in its (Pinnacle industrial wind project) impact zone are victimized by the noise coming from the turbines and are very concerned that impacts on local roads have created a hazard to our school buses and regular automobile traffic during the winter weather,” states the petition.
Issues with Pinnacle Road will be revisited in the spring by the state, according to Christopher.
“On Tasker Road they did a really lousy job in my opinion,” said Christopher, who noted that the road will be tarred and chipped in the spring.
Petitioners requested that the commissioners forward the petition to the PSC, asking them to stop the wind turbines from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Spiggle asked that the commissioners also endorse the petition.
“The public has a right to know if you endorse this petition,” said Spiggle. “It’s one thing to send this petition to the PSC; it’s another thing to send it with your endorsement.”
The petition also asks the commissioners to go to Elk Garden to explain what they have done for the concerned residents. LaRue was unsure of what the petitioners meant by this request. Commission president Cindy Pyles noted that the commission is taking an active role on the issues with the wind turbines by listening to residents’ complaints and by inviting Christopher to Tuesday’s meeting to address residents’ concerns and questions.
Even though the 23 wind turbines are located in West Virginia, all the energy produced from the wind turbines has been purchased by the University of Maryland and the Maryland Department of General Services.