Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

February 24, 2009

Citizens speak out on wind farm

By CHARLES OWENS

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Area residents were divided Tuesday over a wind turbine project for East River Mountain.

“I would say if it brings economic development to the county, we need it,” Jack Thompson of Springville, Va., one of several dozen concerned citizens to attend a public information meeting at Graham High School sponsored by Dominion and BP Wind Energy North America, Inc. “We need all the jobs we can get. I’ve seen the (windmill farm) at Mount Storm — and no problem.”

However, James Gilliam of Bluefield, Va., said he is opposed to the windmill development, adding the project could impact the scenic beauty of East River Mountain and impact the value of coal.

“What are you going to see now — just windmills,” Gilliam said. “It’s unbelievable that the city and Bluefield, Va. would even consider this.”

Alice Bageant of Bluefield, Va., said she is still undecided about the windmills.

“I’m still researching,” Bageant said. “But I am leaning toward what the landowners are wanting to do.”

Peggy Scott of Bluefield, Va., said she is opposed to the project at this point.

“How much power will Tazewell County get and how will this benefit the ordinary citizens of Tazewell County?” Scott asked. “Why did they choose this area of the state to do this?”

Charles Vernon of Tazewell said the windmills could help Tazewell County.

“I’m for what helps Tazewell County,” Vernon said. “I see this as economic development and job creation. I think we should step up to the plate and support what the president, the governor of Virginia and the governor of West Virginia are recommending. I think we need to go with it. I can’t find any negatives.”

Lois Mullins, a member of the Mountain Preservation Association, said the group is concerned about a destruction of the environment, a destruction of the scenic beauty of East River Mountain and a negative impact on wildlife.

“That’s the primary concern is that they are destroying our beautiful mountain when you could locate somewhere else and get better results,” Mullins said.

John Payne of Bluefield, Va., said he supports the windmills.

“I’m all for it,” Payne said. “It’s going to help the economy and everything.”

Dean Johnson of Tazewell said he is opposed to the windmills.

“It’s a whole lot of destruction for very little benefit,” Johnson said.

Leonard Burress of Princeton said he too supports the windmills.

“I think it will be OK,” Burress said. “It might help in the long run for energy. I don’t think they look bad myself.”

Bluefield, Va., Town Manager Todd Day said calls to town hall have been running about half and half in support of and opposed to the windmills.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com