GVEDC To Develop Handbook On Community Wind Projects
Lewisburg, WV – Community Wind projects are on the mind of Steve Weir, Executive Director of the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation [GVEDC], the lead economic development agency for Pocahontas, Greenbrier and Monroe Counties. Weir says the Appalachian Regional Commission in conjunction with Natural Capital Investment asked the GVEDC board to come up with a manual for evaluating proposed community wind projects.
“All we are doing is now preparing to write that manual” says Weir. “We’re getting the input of the County Commission; find out how they feel about it, what they know about it, what they care to know about it. For example, Monroe County said that one of the things they want to make sure is that the residents who decide to get into a community wind project know all the particulars and have enough knowledge to not only move forward in a reasoned and educated manner, but are protected.”
Weir says they have met with the Monroe and Pocahontas County Commissions, but have yet to meet with the Greenbrier Commission. The Appalachian Regional Commission covers an extensive region of the United States from New York to Georgia.
“Community wind is in effect where property owners come together and form the company that actually develops the wind projects” says Weir, “rather than just leasing their land to companies that do wind projects. What we’re hoping to do, and what ARC would like to see is a document that can be distributed to all those 588 other counties in Appalachia to use if they so choose.”
Weir says they’re also looking beyond the private land owners.
“We would like to look at the definition of community wind to see if it could be broadened” he says, “so that other parts of the community could participate in community wind projects. Could Boards of Edcation and education systems gain from the development of a community wind project to help offset their costs of energy?”
He says potential energy savings also ties into another GVEDC program – local foods.
“Our foods systems program is in a nutshell, our effort to help expand the agricultural base in the three counties” says Weir. “One of the things that we will look at is the cost of energy to farms; is there a way of offsetting the cost of energy to farms so they are more competitive in the marketplace; and they can move those cost savings to other parts of the operations, and maybe expand their business. That’s why we’re looking at sustainable energy, and that’s why we’re looking at this wind project [idea].”
Weir says there will always be those for or against any kind of public project such as this, and that’s also part of the process.
“I think everybody is looking for more information” he says. “And I think there is nothing wrong with that; I think everybody should always do that, especially when it comes to public programs and public projects where public dollars are expended. The more information people have, I think the better decisions they make.”