Virginia SCC approves Highland County wind farm
Anyone who wants to see the battleground at Camp Allegheny like it was during the Civil War better do it soon.
Virginia's three-person State Corporation Commission (SCC) issued an order on February 26 that clears the way for construction of a 19-turbine wind energy facility less than two miles from the Camp Allegheny battlefield in Pocahontas County.ﾠ
The SCC order denied a complaint by Virginia's Department of Historic Resources which alleged HNWD had failed to consider the project's impact on the Civil War battlefield in West Virginia.
The commissioners held that the Highland County Board of Supervisors had ruled on the project's "viewshed" when it issued a conditional use permit in 2005 and, therefore, the SCC was statutorily barred from considering the wind farm's "visual impact."
In July, 2005, Highland County supervisors Jerry Rexrode and David Blanchard voted to issue the permit, while supervisor Robin Sullenberger voted against the permit.
In a statement explaining his rationale for opposing the project, Sullenberger wrote, "It is my contention that this proposal could have a profound effect on surrounding property owners, nearly all of whom have expressed either strong opposition or significant apprehension about the project. Furthermore, the potential impact extends far beyond immediate neighbors."
The developer, Highland New Wind Development, LLC (HNWD) plans to begin construction in the spring.
HNWD, owned by Henry McBride, of Harrisonburg, Virginia, plans to install nineteen 400-foot turbines on 220 acres of family-owned land on ridge lines near the West Virginia border. The facility is expected to produce an average output of 12 megawatts and a peak output of 39 megawatts, which HNWD says is enough to power 12,000 homes.
The turbines will be visible at nearby Camp Allegheny, site of a bloody battle between United States and Confederate forces on December 13, 1861. The Confederates repulsed two United States assaults and remained at the camp until April, 1862.
The Virginia SCC is composed of Mark C. Christie, James C. Dimitri and Judith Williams Jadgmann.