QUINWOOD – More wind turbines are on the way in Greenbrier County, with the West Virginia Public Service Commission’s decision to grant Beech Ridge Energy II LLC a permit to expand an installation near Quinwood.
Following nearly 10 months of collecting information and conducting a series of public hearings, the PSC issued an order Wednesday allowing Invenergy Wind Development North America LLC, Beech Ridge’s parent company, to place an additional 33 windmills on a 70,000-acre tract owned by Mead Westvaco. The site is just west of Beech Ridge’s existing 67-turbine installation.
Invenergy’s plans, announced in January, call for construction on the project to begin in July and conclude by the end of this year.
Although at one time the center of protests in Greenbrier County, the Beech Ridge Wind Farm now appears to have few opponents and many supporters, according to PSC documents.
“Local support for this (33-turbine) project far outnumbered the contrary viewpoints,” the PSC said in issuing Beech Ridge’s permit Wednesday.
No one spoke in opposition to this latest project during public hearings held in Rainelle in January and Charleston in February. The PSC received 38 letters supporting the expansion and seven opposing it.
“Our task, however, is not to count votes; rather, our charge is to apply the facts as developed in an extensive proceeding before the Commission against the statutory and regulatory framework that has been established for testing whether any given project should be certificated,” the PSC said.
The 33 new 497-foot- tall turbines will be placed along Beech Ridge, Clear Creek Mountain, Pollock Mountain, Huggins Ridge and Blue Ridge.
Also included in the company’s plans is an energy collection system to deliver the power generated by the new turbines to the existing Beech Ridge Energy substation.
From there, the electricity will flow along an existing transmission line to the Grassy Falls substation of Monongahela Power Company near Nettie in Nicholas County.
The estimated construction cost of the turbines and associated facilities is put at $115 million in figures the company submitted to the regulatory agency.
In addition to creating some 150 construction jobs in the short term and a handful of facility operator jobs in the long term, the newly expanded Beech Ridge Wind Farm is expected to generate an annual average of $600,000 in tax revenue for Greenbrier County for the next 20 years, according to PSC documents.
The agency also reported Beech Ridge’s assertions that the expanded wind farm will pay approximately $200,000 annually in state taxes and will generate up to $29 million in state and local economic activity.
The PSC’s full 49-page permit decision can be found on the agency’s website (www.psc.state. wv.us).
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