Proposed Liberty Gap Project

Pendleton County, WV

Last Update: 23 February 2007

This page is dedicated to information specifically applying to the Liberty Gap project proposed by US WindForce for Jack Mountain in southern Pendleton County, WV. In addition to concerns about this project on its own, there is reason for concern that it will set the stage for extension down the ridge line into Highland County. The Pendleton County group opposing this plan has established a web site. It is our goal in Highland County to complement their efforts.

Please visit their web site:   Friends of Beautiful Pendleton County
or that of another group focused on this project:   Protect Pendleton

Pin-back metal buttons, 2¼" in diameter, with the image shown at left are available from Protect Pendleton. The WV Public Service Commission is holding two hearings in Franklin to receive public comment on the Liberty Gap project, 4 May 2006 at 1:30 and 7:00 p.m. at the Community Building. I attended part of the evening session and found the testimony to be much like that at the SCC hearings in Monterey. There was no sign-up list so the hearing examiner called on people who raised their hands. Thirty-three had spoken at the afternoon session and he promised that the evening session would continue until everyone who wanted to speak had done so. It looked like it would be a long evening. Tom Matthews of Liberty Gap described the project and a representative of the Building Trades Council [union] supported it. Attorney James McNeely, represnting Friends of Beautiful Pendleton County, spoke in opposition, stating the Liberty Gap had not complied with PSC requirements. He also quoted a person who said, “We’re right fond of our raggedy little mountains just the way they are.” The floor was then opened for public comments. The first six, including myself, spoke in opposition, then Steve Conrad spoke in favor. He seems to be Pendleton’s version of Jerry Rexrode, saying that most people are in favor of the project but don’t want to speak out and that those who do speak are against virtually everything that comes along. A break was called shortly after nine o’clock and I left for home. I have not heard about the final count of speakers or any highlights.

At a meeting of FOBPC in Franklin on 10 February 2006 it was announced that the deadline for comments to the PSC had been extended to 17 February. I have submitted a letter to the PSC and urge others from Highland County to do likewise. The address and case number are shown in this letter.

Since Pendleton is doing a pretty good job on this we have not been keeping up with developments. Here are a few recent reports from The Recorder:

Moratorium Denied

It has been reported that the PSC has denied requests for a moratorium on wind development in WV while further studies are undertaken. If anyone has a reference to a published news account I will post it.

US Wind Force’s Liberty Gap project as proposed consists of 50 turbines rated at 1.5 to 2.0 MW each on Jack Mountain from the state line northward for some six miles in Pendleton County. It had been simmering along largely unnoticed until it was approved by the County Commissioners without any public hearing or other notice to affected citizens, including an agreement to use eminent domain, if necessary, to acquire right of way for transmission lines. This blew the lid off the pot. The opposition quickly surfaced and the Commissioners withdrew from the right-of-way deal. That’s where it stands at this moment.

It was later reported that US WindForce has applied to PJM for an interconnection for 112 turbines at Liberty Gap, not 50 as has been reported locally. The implication is that they plan to extend their project south into Highland County and some simple arithmetic confirms it. Turbines are typically placed about 8 per mile. Jack Mountain, from its origin in Pendleton County to the gap at US 250 in Highland, is 14 miles long. 8 x 14 = 112. This confirms what we in Highland have feared all along — it is not just the HNWD project. If that is approved more will surely follow.

It is interesting to note that there is more than one bad actor in this affair. Allegheny Wood Products is the major landowner on Jack Mountain that has leased land to USWF. About a year ago AWP purchased a large block of land in the Cheat River canyon from Allegheny Power, despite a higher offer from the state of West Virginia. The state wanted to buy this scenic and recreational gem and establish a state park. AWP is now building a road through the canyon and has begun logging on the steep slopes, which are the habitat of several endangered species. For more on this atrocity see The Charleston Gazette, 23 November 2004.   [58 Kb]

This is US Wind Force’s depiction of their Liberty Gap project. This view is looking south toward Highland County. Turbines will extend all the way to the state line and, if Highland gives approval, they could be extended further south. I believe that the peak in the far distance at upper right is Sounding Knob. The first 100 MW phase was scheduled for completion by January 2006 but that did not happen. They are now talking about 2008.
Photo from the US Wind Force web site.

Resources — Document References and Links

Documents are listed below in reverse chronological order so the most recent materials are always on top. We also maintain a complete listing of wind articles in The Recorder, including those about Pendleton County. The Pendleton Times is covering this issue but they are unable to provide digital copies of their articles. I have scanned a couple of Times articles as an experiment. This creates rather large files. Please let me know if this is worthwhile. If so I will do more of them.

John R. Sweet, Mustoe, VA