WYTHE COUNTY, VA – Representatives from an international company planning to build a wind farm in Wythe and Carroll counties met with area residents Monday to share information and discuss the project.
EDP Renewables North America is looking at land along the ridge of Stoots Mountain near Austinville. Speaking to a group of landowners, Project Developer Wendy Kingsland said current plans call for the construction of 20 to 24 wind turbines along both sides of the ridge. She said the project should bring jobs to the area and create access roads to the top of the mountain.
A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in the same area used to produce electric power.
Research into what the company has dubbed the “Poplar Camp Project” began about a year ago with wind collection data, said Brian Dunneback, project manager. More studies surrounding the issues of power line transmission, the environmental impact and noise, must be completed before construction can begin. That research will take years, Dunneback said. He estimated that, if approved, construction will begin sometime after 2015, and will take three to seven years to complete.
“Virginia is a good market and this area looked good as a wind resource and because of its proximity to power transmission lines,” Dunneback said.
He added that EDP plans to speak with about 30-40 landowners about leasing their land for the project.
“We are gauging the interest of landowners now,” Dunneback said. “There is some interest and we are seeing what it is. I’m glad people are out and asking questions about the project.”
Many landowners at the meeting expressed concern about the turbines being noisy, in addition to spoiling their mountain views. Others expressed concern about the farm’s effect on property values.
“From my deck, who wants to look at that all of the time?” asked Juanita Jones.
“I’m not trying to argue,” Kingsland said several times during the evening. “I just ask that you keep an open mind.”
North Carolina resident Walter Baynes owns 40 acres on top of Stoots Mountain. He said he visited a wind farm with about 20 turbines in Tennessee and was impressed with what he saw.
“You could walk right up to the turbines and could hardly hear them,” he said. “When you opened the doors, you could hear the generator, but once you closed the door, you couldn’t hear a thing.”
Baynes said he hopes the project gets the green light.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “They will provide power and we won’t have to buy fuel. It will help the country, people will have power. If it hurt someone, I wouldn’t want any part of it, but I don’t see a thing wrong with it.”
EDP Renewables North America develops, constructs, owns and operates wind farms throughout North America. Based in Houston, Texas, the company has 28 wind farms and 15 offices across the United States. The company is owned by EDP Renovaveis, located in Madrid, Spain.