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Proposed Windmills visible from Dolly So ds
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From this week's Grant County Press:
“Wind power interest grows
Third company announces PSC application
Developers of wind-powered electrical generating facilities are continuing to take a close look at Grant County's mountaintop area.
Last week one of those developers - NedPower - picked up the endorsement of county officials. The Virginia-based company wants to build 200 wind-power turbines along the crest of the Allegheny Front.
NedPower plans to submit an application for its 300 megawatt project with the state Public Service Commission later this month.
Provided all goes according to plan, the project's first phase could be on line by late 2003.
"We don't take the PSC process for granted. It could take six months for a review," said Jerome Niessen, one of NedPower's founders. "West Virginia is as good of a spot as you're going to get for this resource."
NedPower is the latest of three windpower developers to announce an interest in the Mount Storm - Davis area. The other two are Backbone Mountain (Tucker County) and Mount Storm Windforce (Grant and Tucker counties). It is the only one to be seeking permission to build east of Bismarck.
Niessen said the NedPower project started over a year ago after he was hunting for potential wind farm sites. While checking maps of West Virginia, he saw the words "Mount Storm." "I saw that on the map and decided to check it out," he said about the January road trip. "My wife and I visited ... determined it was windy up there."
According to Niessen, that casual observation about the wind has been borne out by more scientific studies. The company has since determined there is enough wind to operate the 1.5 kw turbines. Each turbine would be mounted atop a 180-200 foot tower. Niessen said a final decision hasn't been reached regarding a turbine supplier, but most are outfitted with three 35-meter long blades.
Project equipment would be similar to that used at the Green Mountain Energy project near Somerset (Pa.).
NedPower's proposal uses a newer type of turbine than used by the United State's most famous "wind farm." That facility is in California. The California turbines have rapidly-spinning blades. The proposed mountaintop project's turbines would turn at a far slower rate of speed, possibly 14-18 rpms.
The first phase involves 86-109 turbines located in the center of NedPower's project area. Phase one extends from the Stoney River Reservoir jeep trail to within a half-mile of State Route 42. The entire 14-mile proposal extends from Stack Rocks on the south to Mount Pisgah on the north. Niessen said this area was selected for study because it is crossed by three 500kw transmission lines.
NedPower has hired consultants to prepare "viewscapes," computer-generated images of how the towers would appear to persons standing in various locations along its length.
The company has been working locally with Dan Hope, Icky Hyre, Duke McDaniel and John VanMeter to obtain property easements. Hyre and Hope also prepared a video to provide landowners information about turbine appearance and noise levels. He said turbines are quiet, with no sound heard a half-mile away.
The company isn't a newcomer to wind-generated energy. It has been involved in projects located in India, Pakistan, Chile, Peru, Venezuela and Germany.
Board of Education members voted 3-0, Tuesday, to endorse the project. That was after NedPower's Tim Hienle predicted the project could boost tax revenues by at least $500,000 a year. About 70 percent of those revenues would go to the BOE.
Project construction could create 200 jobs, with 10-15 full-time positions remaining once regular operations begin.
Niessen said the proximity of other mountaintop wind farms poses no problem for NedPower, or any additional alternative energy developers. "We're not in competition with them," he stated. "We'll be using the same wind ... there is enough wind for everybody."”
“I have alerted the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy on this and it sounds like they will get involved.”
“go get em tiger!”
“We may have to get a letter campaign going on this one.”
We'd hate to shut down those coal strip mines. Wind power would also cut down on the use of natural gas and cut heavily into the profits of the oil industry. That might affect my investments.
Wind power is a terrible thing.
(Some people are against any change, even if it is for the better.)”
“I'm not against wind power but I am against windmills within sight of a wilderness area. There are other options for this project.”
its the same as a cell phone tower to me
“and i dont' like seeing cell phone towers. do it, it's a good idea, but do it somewhere else. that land has already been set aside for somehting else.”
“I'm torn on this one. Really torn. Because wind power is the future.”
“What other options: coal, oil, natural gas or nuclear?
You can see for 50 miles from the mountain tops. The mountain gaps are the best place for the windmills. I'd rather see a windmill now and then than another fossil fuel burning or, heaven forbid, nuclear plant.”
“This proposal starts out less than a mile from Bear Rocks on the Sods and it is not a windmill every now and then. It's a line of them stretching off to the horizon.”
“I have to agree w/ BS and lizs.
Being "green" means you gotta give and take. These windmills are better than some alternatives.
I actually think the windmills are an awesome sight.
On the other hand, Geo, I can see where you're coming from.”
“I have no quarrel with wind power at all. It's not a question of whether wind power, but where.
Some background and geography for those who don't know the area:
The Dolly Sods is a four-mile wide plateau sitting at a mean elevation of 4,000 feet, approximately 2,000 feet above the valley to the east. The eastern rim of the plateau is the Allegheny Front, the point where the folded mountains end and a high plateau begins. The southern part of the Sods is a Congressionally mandated wilderness area, while the northern part is de facto wilderness.
Bear Rocks sits astride the eastern continental divide. which crosses the Sods at this point. South of the Divide is Forest Service land drained by Red Creek. North of the divide is private land drained by Stony River.
Bear Rocks is a scenic overlook currently owned by the Nature Conservancy, managed as wilderness. Approximately one mile north of Bear Rocks is Stack Rocks, clearly visible from Bear Rocks. Approximately five miles north of Bear Rocks is the Mount Storm Power Plant, a coal-fired plant which would not be replaced by the proposed windmills, but continue to exist. It has a scrubber on its emission stack. The stacks at Mt. Storm are visible from Bear Rocks, but not overpowering.
The proposed line of windmills would start at Stack Rocks, part of the scenic view from Bear Rocks, and continue north along the front. As the article indicates, the towers would stand some 150 feet high. They're not talking about towers that would blend in with treeline or the ridgeline. The trees are stunted in any case at that elevation.
I think anybody who is familiar with the area would feel revulsion if this comes to pass.
There is another proposal, apparently under construction, for a wind farm farther north, well out of sight from the Sods. No problem there.”
“Iíve never been there but the article says it was selected because it is crossed by 3 high-tension power lines. Is the view already marred? If so, how bad could these windmills make it?”
“The power lines are not visible from Bear Rocks. They come from the power plant that is barely visible. The windmills would run to a point much closer, as I wrote.”
“Those windmills would also have lights ontop to alert airplanes.”
It's Always OK...
“If it's not in MY backyard.
I've seen them here in WY on I-80 and I don't like them either.
Heck a few years back, they toppled some over near Cheyenne because they wouldn't work any more. Sold them as scrap. What a waste of mega bucks (federally funded project). These things had blades that were like 300' long.
Burn that natural gas I say. (Always working on my bonus you know)”
“Anyone have pics of the view from Bear Rocks where these mills are proposed?”
Looks like a fine place to me:
“Don't have a shot of that view scanned in that I could send. There are a lot of general photos of both Bear Rocks and one of Stack Rocks on Jonathan Jessup's Bear Rocks Page. Just go to jonathanjessup.com and click informative photos and then click bear rocks. It will show the wilderness aspect of the area.
We are not talking about a view from a mountain down into a town here. The entire ridgeline currently looks like wilderness with the towers of the powerplant showing faintly on the horizon on clear days. But Stack Rocks, where this thing would start, is clearly visible and close by.”
Good work Violin!
“On the pix Violin posted as a link, Shots 032, 037, and 045 look north from Bear Rocks. On the ridgeline from those spots you would see the towers.”
“Besides the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, it looks like the Friends of Blackwater will be involved. I've also alerted the Nature Conservancy and Sierra Club and contacted Sen. Byrd.”
“Will they need to build roads to access the area to build the windmills? If so, that's just more trees removed and more area divided up.....Even green ideas don't always turn out as green as they look sometimes.
I would hate to see what kind of white strobe lights they will use to warn planes. Will there be one for every turbine? That would be 200 of them right?
Will the power be used in the area or will they be selling it elsewhere? Coal fire plants are one of the cheapest forms of power generation so even if they windmills work out, they probably won't replace any coal fired plants.”
“Most likely yes on all counts including selling the power elsewhere and not replacing coal plants.”
“So far the people I have contacted have raised some interesting points that even I had not considered:
Effect on migrating birds: the Allegheny Front is a migratory flyway.
Cutting of red spruce to accommodate the windmills/roads.
This project would not replace the coal-fired power plant at nearby Mount Storm, owned and operated by Dominion Energy (formerly VEPCO).
So far as the valley north of the eastern continental divide is concerned, it is already developed north of the power plant for towns and some strip mines. About the only visual impact from that point north would be strobe lights.
The effect on migrating birds, though, would remain an issue.”
“Ok, here is why I'm torn on this. I have a friend who wants to get into wind generators. "Great!" the 'green' in me says.
However, my next thought was, "uh oh, all the people involved in tourism in this area of SE Minnesota -- which is very scenic land -- would not like their views marred by wind generators.
Alas, he is just talking more of a private wind generator here and there from what I understand, at least at this point. NOT the huge towers of wind farms.
There's a single row of such really tall and HUGE towers sitting along Highway 18 around the vicinity of Cobb, WI... maybe 45 minutes west of Madison. You see them from far away, lights and all. They are enormous, dwarfing silos and anything else near them. They stretch for 2 miles; I've clocked it. It looks like a second row farther away from the highway is just getting started with a couple more towers.
Would I rather not see the huge wind generators? My initial thoughts are, I DON'T WANT TO SEE THEM. But then I think about wind power as such a good alternative power form.... and to make the best, most economical use of wind power, they need to be placed in certain, specific areas.
And I'm bothered by something else. (And again, I can see this two ways. Build a hog confinement above a scenic area and I'd be getting pissy, too. BUT... it's not clean energy either.) We have our designated wilderness areas. Perhaps there should be local zoning enacted to protect a zone within such a radius of the wilderness from development. (IS THERE, Geobeet, in this instance?)
But where do you draw the line? They're not building IN the wilderness area, after all.
It's a while new dilemma. What happens when the things we "greens" should LIKE start bugging us, huh, and we start taking on a lot of little battles and further fragmenting our "green" body of people???
Just some off-the-cuff thoughts... It's all very weird!”
“Well you can't live in this world without a little dichotomy anymore.
The locals in Grant County could probably care less what somebody thinks of the view from Bear Rocks. At the very same time, Grant County benefits from tourist dollars (some of which come out of my wallet when I go to town to resupply or do laundry).
They do not have any appreciation for zoning around wilderness areas. They seem to see this as economic development, which it certainly is. I think the article said some 15-20 permanent jobs.
And I certainly am for economic development for the good people, and they are good people, of West Virginia.
And I am certainly for alternative power when it is not in conflict with other values, like the value of wilderness.
Let's pose this question in another way: suppose we put wind generator farms around every wilderness area in the country, no matter the aesthetics or conflict with scenic views? What is the point of wilderness? We can put billboards up right along the boundary of the wilderness. It's outside the wilderness, don't you see.
We could have junkyards, skyscrapers, airports, all just outside the wilderness boundary. Why not? It's outside the wilderness.
The flyway is an entirely different issue. If these things interfere with migratory birds, then it would be irresponsible to the nth degree to build them. That remains to be proven or disproven in my mind, but the question needs to be answered before the things are built.
Ultimately, I would be most supportive of any proposal that:
a] is out of view from any place in the vicinity of Bear Rocks and
b] is proven not to interfere with migratory birds.
I can spot the stacks of the power plant on most days from Bear Rocks. They are not oppressive, and most people probably do not even see them. Anything build north of that point would probably not impact the view much at all.”
“There will be service roads, power lines, and a small "power plant" somewhat centrally located. Maybe even more than one. They're trying this in Maine along part of the AT, and even OFF the coast of Nantucket out in the water.”
Photo of NedPower's towers and turbines
“Maybe Violin or somebody could post the photo here. Website is http://www.nedpower.com/english/projects.htm”
“That photo looks doggone egregious to me! Ugh!”
Is this green?
“I hope it doesn't look like this one if it goes through....
“Same one as the one I posted. That's the company. That's what I presume they would build.”
The neat thing here
“is that we have a discussion going on with both sides of the issue represented, and a lot of serious thought being exchanged. I posted the same message on the other board about the same time I posted here, and not a word.”
“Did you read the statement about Pultur? It only works during the monsoon season.”
“It would only work when the wind blows. On the Allegheny Front, that would be fairly often throughout the year, but certainly not every day. That would be the case regardless of location. You need wind to turn the blades.”
“They are talking about several of these projects in NJ - two of them in coastal (or offshore) areas. They say that each windmill can be expected to kill one or two birds per year but it might be worse in a coastal area.
Paul Kerlinger, a former director of Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory, now works as a consultant to wind projects around the country. He says its important to balance the risks to wildlife from all power sources. "You turn on the lights, you are going to kill something."”
“Well if he gets his paychecks these days from the folks who develop wind projects, that's about what I'd expect him to say.
Perhaps that mentality is part of the reason for the decline in songbirds?”
“Off shore! Put them off shore, just over the horizon. More expensive to build, but no one is out there.”
Figures...There IS Alot Of Wind Up There
“This brings new meaning to the "Roaring Plains".”
Just Ask Mr.Buddha Bear...
“Has anyone ever been, even walked up to and got close to one of those windmills?
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