State Corporation Commission of Virginia:
Hearings relating to Wind Energy in Highland County
Last Update: 4 February 2008
Highland New Wind Development permit appliction with the State Corporation Commission, case no PUE-2005-00101.
The State Corporation Commission has completed public hearings on this project and has issued a permit to HNWD that includes stringent conditions for monitoring wildlife impacts. As of this date no building permit has been sought or any other action taken to begin construction. The information below was prepared for the March 2006 hearings and is retained here for archival purposes only.
The State Corporation Commission has scheduled public hearings to consider the proposal by HNWD for a commercial wind utility on Allegheny Mountain. These hearings are as follows:
Monday 13 March at 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday 14 March at 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
All hearings will be in the Highland Elementary School gymnasium on the eastern edge of Monterey.
Citizens wishing to participate should arrive 15 minutes early and sign in with an SCC representative. Speakers will be sworn in. There is no limit on the number of speakers and no time limit for each speaker. Speakers can be cross-examined by the hearing examiner and others involved in the case. We understand that such questioning is usually meant to clarify the statements rather than be confrontational.
Those who cannot attend a hearing or who do not wish to testify in person may submit comments in writing on or before 13 March. The deadline has been extended until further notice! Writers must give their full name and address, must sign the letter, must refer to case number PUE-2005-00101, and should include a sentence requesting that the letter be made a part of the record for this proceeding. Letters should be addressed to:
Clerk of the State Corporation Commission
Document Control Center
P O Box 2118
Richmond, VA 23218-2118
Comments may also be submitted electronically at the SCC web site, www.scc.virginia.gov. Click on the Public Notices link, locate the HNWD case and click on Submit Comments. This may or may not work properly, depending on the configuration or your computer.
Becoming a formal respondent in the case is much more complicated and is primarily for those able to provide expert testimony and who wish to cross examine witnesses. Respondents must sign up by 10 February. They will participate in a hearing in Richmond at a later date. See the SCC web site for more information.
Talking Points for those wishing to speak or write to the SCC
- Be sure to sign your letter and include a return address or it will be rejected.
- Be polite and respectful. This is not the place to rant and rave.
- Argue reason, not emotion.
- The SCC, by statute, will issue a certificate of need, so focus should be directed toward encouraging the SCC to require a permit that fully protects the environment, mitigates damages, and sets a proper precedent for future wind turbine siting, if there are to be any.
- Stick to the subject areas that are the SCCs responsibility. The SCC will be addressing matters the local government does not control, such as environmental issues, extension of utility lines and regulation of operation (sound, light, and shadow flicker). In other words, the zoning issues are not the SCCs concern or territory.
- View shed should be mentioned especially if you will be directly affected by view, light, noise, and you are adjacent to the area.
- County ridgelines are important to property values, aesthetic considerations and visual impacts; what will happen if hundreds/thousands of turbines are erected around the state. There needs to be a plan drawn up by the SCC as to what visual impacts are acceptable statewide. The turbines will impact the view shed in several jurisdictions, general tourist views, and surrounding national forests and national battlefields. These other jurisdictions had no say in the local governments decision. The SCC must address this.
- Wildlife issues are important since the regulation of the natural environment does not fall under the authority of the local government. The applicant withdrew his grant request from the federal government to avoid an environmental impact statement. The proposed project area is believed to be part of a national migratory bird route, so there is a great likelihood of extensive bird and bat deaths. The proposed site being in a cleared area near forested land makes for a terrible location for wind turbines. The endangered northern flying squirrel has lived in the general area. Serious long term studies coordinated with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries need to be conducted and must include the migratory seasons.
- Are there enough available transmission lines? Probably so for the present proposal but not for any future expansion. What will be the impact of transmission line construction?
- Who will actually be operating the turbines? The applicant has no experience in operating wind turbines, so who will it be? Is it a qualified company?
- All of the environmental impacts will be felt here in Virginia but the power will be sold where?
- Will the generated power from this facility be worth more than the negative environmental impacts?
- Will this project actually produce any of the environmental benefits ascribed to it, given the low capacity factor expected and the sporadic nature of the wind?
- The above items are only suggestions; if you have additional ideas, by all means use them.