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Highland New Wind Project, VA

STATUS: In progress, with opposition

TYPE: Wind

OPPOSITION: Local residents  

PROSPECTS: Indeterminate

BACKGROUND:  In 2005, the Highland County Board of Supervisors approved a Conditional Use Permit for a new wind farm located in western Highland County, Virginia, bordering West Virginia. The $60 million project, which is expected to provide as much as $200,000 per year in tax revenue for the County, consists of a substation and 19 wind turbines on more than 200 acres, producing 39 megawatts of renewable electricity.

Highland New Wind has faced several obstacles, including difficulties with the permitting process, local opposition based on its impact on the view shed as well as birds and bats.  In May 2009, the developer was notified of an intent to sue by concerned citizens and groups.  Also, nearby landowners, scientists, and residents expressed concern about the developer’s Erosion and Sediment Control plan, and its Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan. In the fall of 2009, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation made a lengthy list of required changes to prevent construction from causing harm to the Laurel Fork watershed on Allegheny Mountain, and keep sediment from disturbing the stream.

After stopping construction in October 2009, the developer appeared to be restarting construction on the project as of November 2010.  While equipment is back on site and a building permit has been obtained for construction of an electrical substation, no land disturbance permit has been obtained for excavation beyond the roads and three turbine sites already prepared. Although the land-disturbing permit was for all the site work, there was only enough bond posted for the first phase. The developer needs to put up more bond money if it does further site preparation.

SOURCES: Highland New Wind: http://www.highlandnewwind.com/;
Industrial Wind Power: http://johnrsweet.com/Personal/Wind/;
Virginia Wind: http://www.vawind.org/#Active;
Industrial Wind Group: http://www.windaction.org/documents/27338;
The Richmond Times Dispatch: http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/2010/apr/12/wind12_20100411-212802-ar-162823/

Last updated December 2, 2010