Thoughts on the Allegheny Front Alliance appeal of the Pinnacle industrial wind project.

As mentioned in a previous post, the Allegheny Front Alliance has filed a “petition for reconsideration” in the matter of the WV Public Service Commission action granting a citing certificate for the purpose of constructing an industrial wind installation on Green Mountain in Mineral County, on the high ridge above Keyser, WV.

AFA representative Frank O’Hara has chosen to let the appeal stand on its own merit, rather than interpret further what is stated in the formal submittal.  Mr. O’Hara has encouraged citizens to go to the document for their information.  Allegheny Treasures has posted, for reader’s convenience, the formal appeal at the link post above and again at the end of this post.

The Mineral Daily-News Tribune (WV) also published an article yesterday, linked here for your convenience.  Mr. Richard Kerns, author of the article, points to several items of interest.  Allegheny Treasures would like to use the opportunity offered by the article to discuss a few related issues.

The Mineral Daily article opens with, “The Allegheny Front Alliance has appealed the West Virginia Public Service Commission’s approval of the Pinnacle Wind Farm, delaying construction of the 23-turbine project atop Green Mountain.”  Since some folks stop there, the phrase “has the potential to delay,” might have better expressed the circumstance, especially since later in the article David Friend, representative for the developer stated that “the company will use the time to identify potential contractors, create bid packages and work to finalize its power-purchase agreement with the University of Maryland.”  Mr. Kerns confirms, near the end of the article, that “Ongoing negotiation of the power purchase agreement (with the University of Maryland) had already delayed the expected spring start of the project, so that the appeal – if it is not granted by the PSC — may have little actual impact on the timeline.”  This statement confirms a January 19 Mineral Daily article, also written by Mr. Kerns, titled, “WindForce officials happy with PSC approval, but push construction start to fall,” which states “those negotiations (U of MD) should wrap up within a month or so, but he pushed the anticipated spring construction start-up back to the fall of 2010, with the turbines being “hung” by summer of 2011.”  “We have our permit now,” Friend noted. “That’s the big deal.

This may seem a silly quibble on my part, but it’s important that people understand that the appeal process is a legal and necessary one and not necessarily the delaying factor.  The AFA appeal was submitted within 10 days of the WV PSC ruling and as stated in the article, “WindForce officials had anticipated the appeal, saying such motions are part of the application process.”  Also, it doesn’t seem that the developer is prepared to move forward were there no appeal and, as Mr. Friend said, “We have our permit now … that’s the big deal.

That being said, Allegheny Treasures has posted on items mentioned in the Mineral Daily article which we’d like to include here for the benefit of any new readers:

1 – AFA “noted that cultural sites in Maryland which would also be impacted by the view of the 400-foot turbines, were not included in the maps and other information provided as part of WindForce’s application.”  Beyond what is included in the formal appeal process, Allegheny Treasures has posted extensively on the actions of the WVSHPO (West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History).  We have confronted the potential impact of what we feel was an error in judgment by the WVSHPO in ignoring the historic sites impacted by the Pinnacle project in Maryland, and the resulting squabble at Camp Allegheny Civil War Battlefield bordering Virginia.  The mitigation of numerous historic sites in Mineral County for a pittance is disgraceful.  We have contacted Governor Manchin’s office for a review of the actions of the WVSHPO and have been assured of a response.

2 – “Regarding the Indiana bat specifically, an endangered species,” the article fails to mention the recent ruling by United States District Judge Roger Titus regarding the Beech Ridge industrial wind plant in West Virginia.  Judge Titus found that the partially constructed wind plant would, in fact, put the endangered Indiana Bat at risk.  As a result of the ruling an agreement was reached including these key elements:

  • The developers will permanently abandoned 31 turbines nearest the Indiana bat hibernacula (about 25% of the overall project);
  • The developers committed to getting an incidental take permits and habitat conservation plan;
  • Until the incidental take permit is granted (which will likely take about two years), no turbines may operate during nighttime except during winter when Indiana bats are hibernating;
  • Bat and bird searches will occur regularly to ensure that no stray bats are being killed during daytime operation prior to issuance of an incidental take permit;
  • Plaintiffs will play a role in the incidental take permit process, but will play a much more productive role than is typical because they will be involved from the beginning;
  • If the Fish and Wildlife Service requests any further layout changes that could reduce the size of the project, the developer has agreed to live with the Service’s decision;
  • The developers have given up all appeal rights to the 4th Circuit; and
  • The developers have given up their motion for reconsideration that was pending before Judge Titus.

3 – The Mineral Daily article states, “on the question of energy, WindForce maintains that the project will contribute power to the electrical grid, and enhance reliability. Again, the Alliance takes issue with that contention, saying Pinnacle will actually be disruptive to the grid.”  Performance is a welcome debate playing out across the country with renewed interest by lawmakers in several states.  We encourage US WindForce to “open the books” on actual v capacity because, at risk of repeating, our sense is that industrial wind just doesn’t cut it!  The claim that industrial wind will replace fossil fuel power plants and reduce CO2is challenged by some of the best minds in the country and, when called upon to produce evidence of power plants shut down or evidence (not estimates from industry sources) of CO2 reduction, the reality is this, “With nearly 100,000 huge wind turbines now in operation throughout the world—35,000 in the USA—no coal plants have been closed anywhere because of wind technology. And there is no empirical evidence that there is less coal burned per unit of electricity produced as a specific consequence of wind.”  Even wind developers, when pressed about the CO2 issue tend to minimize industrial wind’s contribution.

The LA Times, in a surprisingly candid piece about the lack of job growth as promised by the wind industry, noted that “even though a record 10,000 megawatts of new generating capacity came on line, few jobs were created overall and wind power manufacturing employment, in particular, fell…”

So, when folks start to realize that industrial wind costs more, provides few jobs, very little and infrequent electricity to the grid and all the while sacrifices our environment and wildlife in the process, there’s bound to be a shift.  The industrial wind folks fight back with their propaganda and call doubters NIMBY (not in my back yard).  Well, as we said here in a previous post, Industrial wind calls it NIMBY. Perhaps! But “this problem runs from the arctic to the tip of South America — and that is one helluva big backyard!”

Let me end with this, it is unfortunate that, among the many issues that can be considered by the WV PSC in granting a siting certificate, two of the most important claims of the wind developer are off the table.  The WV PSC has no power to require that the developer actually produce electricity at the rated level or, in fact, any minimum percentage of the generator nameplate capacity as specified by the project under consideration.  Similarly, the WV PSC cannot require evidence that the project under consideration or any active project for that matter has, or will reduce greenhouse gas emissions – a significant benefit listed by wind developers in their promotional materials.

Think of that! With all the consumption of land and air; negative impact on wildlife the environment; incredible benefits as a result of subsidies, tax incentives and higher prices to consumers and there is little or no accountability required of industrial wind.  At least Ontario provides a real time report of its industrial wind performance.  But then, perhaps that’s why US industrial wind does not!

As mentioned, a full text of the Allegheny Front Alliance appeal is provided here for your convenience:

We make every effort to be accurate.  If you note any errors, omissions or broken links please contact us via the comment section at this post.  We appreciate you coming by and encourage your review of our material and appreciate any respectful comments.

This entry was posted in Allegheny Front Alliance, Beech Ridge, US WindForce, WVSHPO and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Thoughts on the Allegheny Front Alliance appeal of the Pinnacle industrial wind project.

  1. Jon Boone says:

    First rate commentary, Mike. All of your arrows found the bulls-eye. US Windfarce continues to scurry for financing. Let’s don’t wish it good luck as potential investors are informed about the pending litigation.

    LLCs like Windfarce depend upon the lassitude of regulators who have become mere pass-throughs for the dumbest modern energy idea imaginable–and their ineptitude actually invites legal suits on the part of those–the public–whose interest the regulators ignore Windfarce, and its long term boosters like the reporter, Richard Kerns, pretend that wind is effective, cutting edge, and progressive when it is in fact dysfunctional, ancient, and uncivil.

    All praise to the AFA.

  2. Allegheny Front Alliance says:

    AFA believes the public should know who US Wind Force or (AKA US Wind Farce) is.

    US Wind Force indicates it working on the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)

    Allegheny Front Alliance questions US Wind Force leadership, its management, and its ability to secure a PPA based on the company history.

    Here are just five LLC companies and plans that they developed.

    In 2000, US Wind Force reported it began operations. In 2007, they reported. the company “is independent, closely held, and is regarded as one of the most ambitious wind energy developers in the United States, with more than 20 projects in various stages of development.”

    Mount Storm Project, LLC
    • On August 29, 2002, the WV Public Service Commission granted the required Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (Permit) for our Mount Storm Wind Project. Construction is expected to begin next year.

    Current Project Status: Not started

    Liberty Gap Project, LLC
    • On June 22, 2007, the West Virginia Public Service Commission refused to issue a siting certificate to Liberty Gap Wind Force to construct a wind turbine generating facility. This is only temporary

    Current Project Status: US Wind Force has not taken any action to secure an US Fish and Wildlife Service Incidental Take Permit

    Savage Mountain Project LLC
    • In 2002, US Wind Force announced it was to build a wind project atop Savage Mountain.

    • In March 2003, US Wind Force was granted permission to construct a project atop Savage Mountain. They had five years to start construction.

    • In May 2007, US Wind Force requested a waiver. The extension allows the company to until March 2010 to build the 25 generates turbines on Garrett and Alleghany County that will produce about 40 megawatts of electricity.

    Current Project Status: US Wind Force has removed this project from their web site.

    Garrett State Forests Lands:
    • US wind Force continues to pursue their projects. Now they turn to Maryland State Forests. In April 2008, Maryland Governor O’Malley administrative source reported, “the Governor feels very strongly, we need to protect our conservation lands because we hold them in trust for future generations,”

    Current Project Status: US Wind Force move to forward to its next project.

    Dans Mountain Project, LLC
    • On March 11, 2009, Maryland Public Service Commission approved Dan’s Mountain Wind Force an exemption from the full regulatory review process.
    • In June 2009, Allegheny County Commissioners enacted Home Rule: The adopted Home Rule Details can read here; Home Rule Reads
    • Yes, US Wind Force can build their project but there are restrictions:
    Set backs from homes, protection of historical properties, US Wind Force must work with Natural Resources to assure protecting wildlife, protect ground water, and for each turbine post a $150,000 decommission bond.

    Current Project Status: US Wind Force does not seem interested in pursing this project.

    Be the judge does this company look like they have done their homework? Conducted proper wildlife managment studies, decomission studies, power genreration studies, water permiting studies.

    Now US is working to arrange a 20 year PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) with Maryland thanks to their lobby friends in Annapolis.

  3. Allegheny Front Alliance says:

    Wind energy opinion survey just ‘snake oil’
    Again, US Wind Force spins their claims and half-truths in the April 14 article “US Wind Force Counters Commissioner’s Concern.” Mr. Friend’s cites a West Virginia statewide opinion survey that 57 percent of individuals polled were pro-wind. At best, this survey is misleading, dubious and outdated. …The uninformed opinion of pro-wind is diminishes when individuals learn that industrial wind turbines are planned on fragile mountain ridges.

    April 15, 2009 by Frank O’Hara in Cumberland Times-News

    Again, US Wind Force spins their claims and half-truths in the April 14 article “US Wind Force Counters Commissioner’s Concern.” Mr. Friend’s cites a West Virginia statewide opinion survey that 57 percent of individuals polled were pro-wind. At best, this survey is misleading, dubious and outdated. This is nothing more than a “snake oil” opinion survey.

    The uninformed opinion of pro-wind is diminishes when individuals learn that industrial wind turbines are planned on fragile mountain ridges. Individual opinions are quickly changed when they learn projects are publically tax subsidied projects. Industrial wind project destroy wild life habitat, creates forest fragmentation, threatens residential and migrating birds and bats, and affects beautiful scenic areas, including cultural and historical places.

    The local economy is impacted and residents’ opinions change when they realize that wind energy is unreliable and PJM grid system policy only allows 13 percent of electrical generation to enter their system. Opinion dissolves when residents realize they receive no service benefit, lower electrical rates, because all generated energy sell to outside interests.

    Please remember when an opinion survey is offered ask questions:

    • First, ask to view the completed study.

    • Who conduct the survey for possible bias?

    • What is the survey sample design and sampling size?

    • Does the survey reflect a representative population sample?

    • Are questions reliable and valid?

    • For accuracy, what statistical tests were performed?

    • What is the margin of error?

    For the record: The 2006 survey was commissioned by West Virginia Manufacturing Association in conjunction with representatives of the wind energy industry was conducted by RMS Strategies of Charleston. Since completed the entire study has not been publically released. A survey question not asked, “If people would like live in view of an industrial wind site?” But wait,there is more …

    In the Liberty Gap Wind Farm Project, US Wind Force unsuccessful spins the same story to the West Virginia Public Service Commission. This project is located in beautiful rural Pendleton County, W.Va., was opposed by Friends of Beautiful Pendleton County (www.fobpc.com ) Here are some highlights offered to WVPSC.

    US Wind Force CEO Mr. Matthews, under testimony, states Liberty Gap received tremendous response and support from their local community. The real facts were that public comments received by the WVPSC shows that 715 received, of which 587 (82 percent) opposed the project and 128 (18 percent) supported the project. Of the 128 that supported the project 70 (55 percent) were form letters from union members, the majority do not live in Pendleton County.

    US Wind Force is peddling “snake oil.” Be a smart consumer, don’t be fooled by a slick bottle label. Learn what ingredients you are buying and taking or it could make you and the community very ill.

    Web link: http://www.times-news.com/opinion/local_story_1052

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