Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 25, 2013

Wind turbines: VACo joins Tazewell opposition

BLUEFIELD, Va. — The Tazewell County Board of Supervisors has picked up a powerful ally in its battle with Dominion Power over the placement of several wind turbine units on East River Mountain.

Charles Stacy, eastern district representative on the board of supervisors said that the Virginia Association of Counties has expressed concerns about SB 1341, the renewable energy facilities; exemption from land use regulations,” bill that was introduced in the General Assembly by State Senator Richard L. Saslaw, D-Springfield.

“VACo is adamantly opposed to this bill for reasons other than windmills,” Stacy said. “Their concern is that the bill would totally prohibit localities from being able to have a say in the kind of developments they want in their communities. VACo has a group of competent lawyers who can help present our position in committee meetings. We have a strong ally in VACo.”

Stacy said that he received an email from one of the many community groups nationwide that monitor state legislation related to wind energy developments.

“I’m still active with the local windmill group,” Stacy said. “When I received that email, it was like getting kicked in the stomach. We didn’t have anyone who tipped us off to this. We are wondering if this bill could have passed right on through if no one noticed it.”

State Senator Phillip P. Puckett, D-Russell, was aware that Saslaw introduced legislation for Dominion that is similar to a bill he introduced concerning Appalachian Power’s biennial reviews and the authority to petition for rate increases. Puckett said that he thought SB 1341 “was drooped on Monday,” but he now plans to examine it as it heads into the Senate Committee on Local Government.

Stacy said that he has been part of the opposition to Dominion’s planned wind energy farm on East River Mountain since the idea was initially proposed. “This issue is what brought me here,” Stacy said of his position on the board of supervisors. “The folks in the eastern district sent me here because of their opposition to Dominion’s proposal.”

According to Stacy, County Attorney Eric Young conducted an email poll of all 5 county supervisors, and the supervisors who had been divided 3-2 on the issue when the ridge line ordinance was passed, are now unanimous in their opposition to SB 1341.

“Eric’s email poll passed 5-0,” Stacy said. “Eric is sending our letter of opposition to Phillip (Puckett), Will (Del. James W. “Will” Morefield, R-Tazewell) and Annie B. (Del. Anne B. Crockett-Stark, R-Wythe) so they are aware of our position.

“When the board voted on the ordinance, Seth (White) opposed the ordinance,” Stacy said.

“Seth said that at that time, the Legislature was saying that this was a local issue. Now, three years later, they’re saying it’s a General Assembly issue.”

Stacy said that the Mountain Preservation Association plans to continue monitoring the legislation as closely as possible, and travel to Richmond, Va., to make their voices heard if necessary.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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