Ongoing noise problems associated with Mitsubishi turbines operating at the Pinnacle Wind project in Mineral County WV are being investigated by the West Virginia Public Service Commission, following a formal complaint from residents.
The following are excerpts from the WV PSC FINAL JOINT STAFF MEMORANDUM, dated May 17, 2012:
“In its latest filing, Pinnacle makes many arguments that Staff believes are largely irrelevant that Staff will not address in this memorandum. Staff will focus on what it believes to be the main thrust of this case, which is the fact the Pinnacle project is generating unpredicted and objectionable noise. The existence of this unpredicted and objectionable noise has been verified by the Staff Engineer in this case using the most appropriate scientific measuring methodology available, his own ears.”
WV PSC Staff continues: “One other issue Staff must address is Pinnacle’s argument this complaint is preventing its permanent financing from closing, thus costing Pinnacle money and adding uncertainty to the certificate process. Staff would posit that it is not this complaint that is preventing the financing from closing, but the unpredicted and objectionable noise generated by the project.”
Regarding the financial issue raised by Pinnacle owners, the WV PSC Staff suggests that, “As long as the project is producing this objectionable noise, it is highly subject to complaints both before this Commission and in Circuit Court and as long as there is still a possibility of further complaints, the future operational parameters of this project are in question and the financing will not close.”
Speaking of money … I do wonder if this little skirmish might be holding up a $40 million dollar windfall Pinnacle owners are likely eligible to receive under the 1603 Federal Grant (taxpayer subsidy) program. It’s not clear if Pinnacle’s owners – Edison Mission – has moved forward in pursuing the massive taxpayer subsidy, but $40,000,000 is a lot of cash. Just ask the taxpayers!
But, should they apply for the 1603 funds, another issue surfaces. In earlier testimony before the WV PSC the project developer’s representative David Friend told the PSC that “no public funding or property tax abatement was involved with this (Pinnacle) Project.” If that changes, the instruction in the WV PSC Siting Certificate issued to the owners is quite clear: “In the Application, Pinnacle indicated that the federal government is considering programs that could provide funding to foster the development of renewable energy projects, Pinnacle might seek funding under the program, and if it does so, Pinnacle will promptly make any disclosures required by the Commission’s Siting Rules. It is reasonable to require Pinnacle to advise the Commission if it receives any public funding for the project so that the Commission can reopen this proceeding and perform the Part Two analysis that W. Va. Code 5 24-2- 1 1 c requires.” (WV PSC Siting Certificate)
We are very pleased that the WV PSC Staff is standing up for the neighbors who complain that “The noise from these windmills is so great that it is impossible to live near them.” These neighbors are to be commended for taking on this quality of life issue. The WV PSC must insure these folks are protected from this horrible intrusion, regardless of the cost to the large corporation which is making their lives miserable.
Full text of the most Staff Memo here: