Virginia SCC Dismisses Case Against Highland New Wind
Richmond, VA – The Virginia State Corporation Commission has removed the final hurdle to construction of Highland New Wind Developments multi turbine wind farm on Tamarack Ridge and Red Oak Knob in Highland County. It’s a disappointment for those who fear the wind farm will have a detrimental effect on Camp Allegheny, a civil war battlefield just across the state line in Pocahontas County.
In late February, the SCC accepted the recommendations of Senior Hearing Examiner Alexander F Skirpan, Jr. Those recommendations included the following findings:
The final order issued by the SCC in Dec of 2007 excluded viewshed from further deliberation because it was considered by the Highland Board of Supervisors in issuing a conditional use permit.
If the final order is read to include a condition requiring Highland New Wind to coordinate with the Virginia Dept of Historic Resources regarding visual impact on Camp Allegheny, any mitigation would be limited to actions within the Commonwealths borders. Skirpan also says funds requested by the DHR for Camp Allegheny would do nothing to reduce the visual impact on the site.
Skirpan says Highland New Wind Development has complied with the final order requiring coordination with the DHR for archaeological and architectural surveys.
The SCC also rules that the Sunset provision, requiring construction of the wind farm to begin by at December 2009, is not considered part of this case. The DHR can submit a new case to the SCC based on this argument.
So is this now a dead issue? Pocahontas County Commissioner David Fleming hopes it isn’t. He wants the Supervisors to require specific assurances from Highland New Wind.
Fleming: “Whatever Highland Countys going to get, it needs to be in writing. We would insist that the developer seek any incidental take permits because that’s federal law, that’s required. I’d like to see them have in writing that they’re going to get X dollars of tax revenue, at present its just sort of a promise.”
Fleming is still hopeful that Camp Allegheny and the wind farm can find a way to peacefully coexist. Construction of the turbines is expected to begin this spring.