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East River Mountain Wind Project, VA

STATUS: In progress, with opposition

TYPE: Wind

OPPOSITION: Mountain Preservation Association; local residents

PROSPECTS: Indeterminate

BACKGROUND: Dominion and BP Wind Energy North America Inc. purchased 2,560 acres of land in Tazewell County for the East River Mountain wind turbine project, a 70 to 80 megawatt facility. If approved, construction of the wind turbines would take two to three years.

The project would generate over $600,000 in property and real estate taxes for Tazewell County during the first year of operation. The project's construction phase would create about 150 jobs. Another 10 to 15 long-term jobs would be created for maintaining the wind turbines.

Opposition from the Mountain Preservation Association focuses primarily on the scenic views and impacts to tourism. A member of the association stated, "All of us that live here know that our biggest asset, the biggest attraction for people, the biggest possibility for the tourist industry to grow is the beauty of our mountains."  Opponents also take issue with the government subsidies provided for "green energy" projects, with the feeling that it amounts to a form of corporate welfare for technologies that have very little merit on their own.

On February 1, 2010, the county board voted 3-2 to adopt a ridgeline protection ordinance, which restricts the development of tall structures on certain protected ridgelines, including East River Mountain and Burkes Garden.  In an April 2010 letter to the Daily Telegraph, David A. Christian, the chief executive officer of Dominion Generation, said the company remained committed to the project. Christian went on to say, “[a]lthough Dominion respects the board’s decision as representing the voice of the people, we believe it was wrong. Why? Because our proposed wind farm means jobs, income and economic opportunity for Tazewell County.”

SOURCES: Bluefield Daily Telegraph: www.bdtonline.com/cnhi/bdtonline/homepage/local_story_055212402.html?keyword=leadpicturestory;
Bluefield WVVA News: http://www.wvva.com/global/story.asp?s=9751661;
All Business: http://www.allbusiness.com/government/government-bodies-offices-regional/13852068-1.html;
Tri-Cities: http://www2.tricities.com/news/2009/mar/29/is_the_answer_to_regions_energy_needs_blowing_in_t-ar-244245/
Last updated December 2, 2010