On November 26, 2008, the Public Service Commission of West Virginia (PSC) granted a Siting Certificate for AES Laurel Mountain, Inc. (AES) to construct a wind project on Laurel Mountain between Elkins (Randolph County) and Belington (Barbour County), West Virginia.
On December 5, 2008, Laurel Mountain Preservation Association (LMPA) presented a Petition for Reconsideration indicating that the “findings of fact and conclusions of law recited in the Order, overlooked certain evidence, gave undue weight to certain evidence, and ultimately issued a decision contrary to law…” and that the “Applicant failed to satisfy its evidentiary burden with respect to need, noise impacts, risk of mortality to threatened and endangered bats, viewshed impacts, and impacts to area hydrology.” The PSC denied the LMPA Petition for Reconsideration. LMPA subsequently submitted a Petition for Appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia; however, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia refused the appeal.
AES commenced construction in 2010, with destruction of more than 388 acres of forestland along over 12 miles of ridgeline to facilitate the roadway (an average of 100 feet wide on top of up to 70 feet of fill material) accompanied by significant blasting to destroy the rock on the ridgeline. At least five towers have been installed to the nacelle height.
In October, 2010, West Virginia Master Naturalists Arthur Dodds, President of LMPA, and Pamela Dodds, Treasurer of LMPA, alerted area residents to the AES Notice of Intent to waive the requirement for a siting certificate for a modification concerning the addition of a storage unit that utilizes lithium batteries.
On November 29, 2010, AES followed through on its Notice of Intent by providing its application to waive the siting certificate modification, or alternatively to modify the siting certificate for the AES Laurel Mountain wind project by installing an “energy storage device” (ESD) consisting of eight 4MW modules consisting of lithium-ion batteries, inverters, transformers, and cooling systems. The cost of the ESD is stated to be $28.8 million.
The Dodds note that, in the application, the LMPA pending motion to reopen Case 08-0109-E-CS is mentioned, along with the Endangered Species Act notice of intent to sue. They noted, however that AES commented that neither action has occurred.
The PSC has assigned a new case number to this request for a siting certificate waiver or modification: Case No. 10-1824-E-CS-PC provided here for your convenience:
Frank O’Hara of the Allegheny Front Alliance noted that AES apparently has obtained a Department of Energy loan guarantee ($17.1 million for an ESD in New York). If receipt of a loan guarantee is confirmed, it may constitute federal funding for this project, which should trigger NEPA and require an EIS for the project.
Further, the Dodds point to concerning information provided by Mr. O’Hara regarding the lithium-ion batteries proposed for this new use –http://www.hawaiifreepress.com/main/ArticlesMain/tabid/56/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/2496/Xtreme-Power-A-Piginapoke-For-Hawaii-Wind-Farm.aspx, which warns of the potential for “thermal runaway,” (meaning FIRE) and thus constitutes a grave safety issue.
Also of serious concern is that energy FROM the grid will be stored in the lithium-ion batteries, as the electric diagram provided in the application is inconclusive regarding this regard.
The Dodds suggest that these concerns demand that this “new case” be part of a re-opening the original case because it constitutes significant modification to the initial case.
Parties interested in providing remarks and requesting a hearing for the case are urged to do so to the WV PSC as follows:
Ms. Sandra Squire, Executive Secretary
Public Service Commission of West Virginia
P.O. Box 812
Charleston, WV 25323
Subject: Case No. 10-1824-E-CS-PC
AES Laurel Mountain, LLC, Application for Waiver of Siting Certificate Modification Requirements or, in the Alternative, for a Modification to Siting Certificate and Related Requests for Relief
Pamela C. Dodds, Ph.D., is a Registered Professional Geologist who has worked as a geologist/hydrogeologist for the Virginia DOT, Virginia DEQ, and an environmental firm near Bristol, Tennessee. She has concentrated on groundwater contamination investigations and is currently conducting hydrological investigations in watersheds which will be impacted by industrial-scale wind turbine projects and by extensive high voltage transmission lines. Dr. Dodds is also certified by the West Virginia DNR as a Master Naturalist. Mrs. Dodds serves as Treasurer of the Laurel Mountain Preservation Association.
Arthur W. Dodds, Jr., is a professional cartographer who worked for NOAA as a supervisor managing the instrument approach procedures charts for airports throughout the U.S. His credentials include training and management concerning the heights of objects which could impact flight patterns; electromagnetic field impacts on RADAR; and viewshed analysis. Mr. Dodds is also certified by the West Virginia DNR as a Master Naturalist. Mr. Dodds serves as President of the Laurel Mountain Preservation Association.