A year ago, almost to the day, I led a post with one of my Dad’s favorite lines: “Write it down on a block of ice!” He’d say that to me when I’d suggest he’d be getting a bill for doing chores around the house.
Well, that post had to do with promises made to a community by a wind developer seeking permission to build a wind plant in their community. I cautioned them against taking the word of wind developers and suggested they have something a little more concrete to fall back on when the claims are later disputed. This post deals with how the wind developer’s promises are beginning to play out in our own little community, post-construction.
A recent article in our local paper notes that area residents are upset that the developer of the Pinnacle wind project in Mineral County West Virginia isn’t honoring promises. The wind developer responded to the criticism with this classic: “We don’t believe we mislead anyone.”
Seems the residents of the area near the construction zone understood that the roads damaged by the heavy equipment would not only be repaired, but improved. Some residents were even convinced that long stretches would actually be paved. Well, that’s obviously not going to happen!
According to the wind folks, it was all a little misunderstanding and they only committed to put the roads back in their original condition … or maybe a little better. In fact, they say they not only put the roads back to pre-construction status, they even made a few turns wider and resolved a culvert issue.
Don’t you have to wonder how residents who have had conversation after conversation in meeting after meeting with the wind developer for the past couple of years could be so confused on this issue? If I’m not mistaken, some of these confused folks actually served on the project’s advisory council. Block of ice, anyone?
Some might say I should be a bit more trusting of the wind folks. Sorry … my experience suggests to me that the reason roads were widened and curves “smoothed” had more to do with the ability to move the 175 +/- foot long tractor trailer along restrictive mountain lanes than to improve the roads for the convenience of area residents. And as far as correcting the issue with the large culvert, aka the “infamous five foot cattle crossing under the road,” … was that really to make life easier for residents or simply a requirement to facilitate moving the heavy equipment across the underground obstacle? My bet is on the culvert’s axle-weight restriction. I happen to believe that it was mandatory that the road “improvements” be made for purposes of transport with no thought whatsoever for the residents.
You see, I don’t trust wind developers further than I can throw them and I firmly believe the road issue is just the tip of the broken promise iceberg yet to surface.
The wind folks would like you to believe that everything they do is for the benefit of the community. Well, I don’t believe that! In fact, I happen to agree with Gabriel Alonso, chief executive of Horizon Wind Energy LLC, who often reminds his employees that their goal isn’t to stage a renewable-energy revolution. “This is about making money.”
Mineral County residents still haven’t awakened to the fact that the decommission study, which was prepared by a consultant agency recommended by the wind developer, resulted in our clueless county commissioners approving escrow funding of zero dollars, leaving the county residents, by my estimate, on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But then, maybe the county commissioners were not actually “mislead” by the developers, but simply confused … much like the residents riding the roads around the new wind plant. The promise of jobs and revenue can blind you to the facts!
And, by the way … why is US WindForce LLC still speaking for the project? They seem to be possibly the only company not included in the cobweb of affiliates connected to Edison Mission and Pinnacle. But then, a bigger question perhaps … why do people still listen to them?
The full article is available at this link. I recommend you read it.
If Keyser residents are only complaining about roads, I guess that means the wind turbines haven’t started operating at full force yet. Here in Randolph and Barbour Counties, you have to get two or more miles away from the turbines to get away from the noise. I expect that a lot of hunters will be getting a lesson in turbine noise this week and next. If there is a bright side, it’s that many days, even in the fall, there’s not enough wind here to keep the turbines going. Glad it wasn’t my money that paid four million apiece to out them up. Oh wait! It was my money.
Dave Friend, CEO of US Wind Force, the developers of Pinnacle Wind Farm, stated: “We don’t believe we mislead anyone,” he said, citing the message has been consistent on how the damage to the roads would be handled.
Here are some other examples of misleading the community,
• “At the open houses, we had experts available to anyone asking questions,” Friend says, adding that such full disclosure provides “an opportunity to dispel myths.” *
2009: January 5, the Community Advisory Panel (CAP) suggested a topic Transportation: How to get turbines up to the site. (p. 5 notes)
2009: February 5th Walt Ward asked for more information on the construction traffic routes so residents can understand what the timing and potential impact may be on the community. (p. 4)
2010, January 18, Transportation routes for materials was listed as a topic for upcoming meetings.
1. Did US Wind Force invite DOH to CAP to discuss the roads?
2. Was road condition and repair addressed in the project proposal?
3. Was any CAP meetings held in the Elk Garden Community prior to immediate project construction in April 2011?
The answer is NO, NO, and NO
How did US Wind Force respond to the County Commission regarding the roads?
June 23, 2009, The County Commission looking for answers
— “During the construction period, it will be necessary to use roads in the county that are currently in daily use. Please tell us what roads will be used, the maximum weight load these roads will be subjected to, and what guarantees you might give us that regular commerce will not be disturbed and the roads will not be damaged.”
June 25, 2009, County has a face to face with US Wind Force Reps
“Lastly, Spiggle questioned the group about the wear and tear on the county’s roads during the construction phase and what measures they were planning to take to insure that interruption of traffic flow would be kept at a minimum.
Friend said the 23 turbines which are expected to be erected would be brought into the area in 10 oversize truckloads per turbine, which would include four for the tower sections, three for the blades, and three for the generator and various other parts. (Note: this does not fit the decommissioning report provided) (Whoops I guess Commissioner President Pyles forgot to read and compare notes)
“The heaviest load will be 65 tons,” Friend said. “Each blade is about 12 ½ tons. It’s not overweight; it’s oversized.”
Friend said the trucks would travel U.S. Route 220 through Keyser, Route 93 to Scherr, Route 42 to U.S. Route 50, and then over to Pinnacle Road.
“We are not taking them up Green Mountain Road,” he said, noting that that was one of the rumors which had been circulating around the project.
As far as expecting the traffic to cause any undue wear and tear on the highways, Friend said, “You’ve already seen turbines come through mostly the same path we’re going to use. My question to you is, did you have road impact from the Ned Power project?”
So how does the US Wind Force do it? Its marketing
Dave Friend, in an interview, September 6, 2011 with North American Wind said:
• Ultimately, it’s better that we control the message.” *
• “You can try to fly below the radar,…
Dave Friend – he did not lie – he just controlled the message, “You’ve already seen turbines come through mostly the same path we’re going to use. My question to you is, did you have road impact from the Ned Power project?”