Contentious wind projects affect county
Two wind energy projects affecting Pocahontas County made news in 2009.ﾠ
After overcoming strong local opposition, Invenergy Corporation began construction of a $300 million, 119 turbine project along 23 miles of ridgelines in northern Greenbrier County.
The 400-foot turbines would be visible from parts of the Monongahela National Forest, Watoga State Park and the Cranberry Wilderness Area.
In July, opponents of the project filed suit, claiming the wind turbines would kill endangered Indiana Bats.
U.S. District Court Judge Roger W. Titus ordered a halt to the project in December, ruling that further construction would violate the Endangered Species Act. The order allowed operation of 40 turbines, already near completion, but only during winter months, when bats are hibernating.
An Invenergy spokesman said the company plans to obtain an incidental take permit from the Fish and Wildlife Service and complete the project.
In August, Highland New Wind Development, LLC (HNWD), issued a site plan for a 19-turbine project on Tamarack Ridge in Highland County, Virginia.ﾠ The proposed site is within two miles of the historic battlefield at Camp Allegheny in Pocahontas County. The site plan included a stateline which had been replotted by HNWD surveyor Jeffrey Hiner and two turbines sited very close to the boundary.
Notified by the Pocahontas County Commission, Governor Manchin activated the state boundary commission, which had been dormant for 50 years.
Two boundary commissioners visited the site in November to examine Hiner's survey.ﾠ Later that month, the commissioners declared Hiner's survey had accurately located the top of Allegheny Mountain, which is the boundary between Highland and Pocahontas counties.
Boundary commission chairman Charles Sypolt noted that the commission's responsibility included only a correct determination of the stateline, not a decision whether the turbines would encroach into West Virginia territory.
Opponents of the Tamarack Ridge project say the gigantic wind turbines will ruin one of the last remaining unspoiled Civil War sites in the country.
Virginia's Department of Historic Resources (DHR) claimed HNWD has not met its responsibilities with regard to protection of Camp Allegheny.ﾠ At the end of the year, DHR and HNWD were engaged in a legal battle to determine the developer's responsibilities and the scope of the agency's power. A Virginia State Corporation Commission hearing examiner is expected to issue a decision in January.