WV Potomac Highlands Windmills

Scare tactics: an "artistic" depiction of future windmills on the Allegheny Front
That's my note on the photo so it won't be used by others, thinking it's a real photo!
NOT a real image
Aw, come on, how about a little bit of honesty here.

Now, some Reality... here's how the original plan for that project finally turned out:

Windmills over New Creek Lake - just these 9 units produce
        power for 3600 homes

...and below, the Backbone Mountain windmill farm near Thomas, WV (a real photo, no gimmicks)
Thomas WV windmills in Tucker County - unretouched

Scare tactics below: found on a British opposition group's site, without explanation
Yup, my note on the photo, again, so it can't be reused by others :-)
NOT a real image

Reality: windmills 2-3 miles away from a home in Davis, WV at sunset (again, no gimmicks)
Thomas WV windmills in Tucker County - unretouched in
          any way

My thoughts about windmill farms in the WV mountains

Charlie Winfree & a wild friend First of all, I'm about a "green" as you get, in the "Red State" of WV. I'm a tree hugger, an animal lover, a mountain property Realtor always trying to do the right thing. I work with land trusts and conservation groups and support them all, fought the Corridor H highway for 10 years, give major support to animal shelters, created a 500 acre nature preserve at The Preserve at New Creek Lake... OK, you get the idea. Yeah, as they say, I'm "not from around here". True. 

I'm not a promoter or investor of these windmill farms, but I can't see being AGAINST them and endlessly bashing them with bogus photos and claims, either. I do believe in fighting fair, if ya gotta fight, and not being a NIMBY (not in my back yard), just because it's "your view-shed".... hey, your view-shed is somebody else's land and they've let you view if for free, for years. They should be thanked. One perceptive person recently called these "borrowed views". That's what they are. Thanks Cathy.
Update 7/7/06: Cathy has now bought a property less than a mile from proposed new windmill towers. No problem.

These incredible photos of hundreds of windmills grouped together like trees in a forest should be obvious hoax photos to intelligent people. Doesn't seem right to be sending them, or their links, around to generate opposition. Above are a few VERY REAL photos of the windmills in the Thomas, Parsons & Mount Storm areas. They are not ugly, not tearing up the mountains and definitely not packed together every 100 feet, as the photos would lead you to believe. 

Mount Storm power plant WV belches steam... plus
        mercury and other heavy metals, acids and smog-producing
        chemicalsI think of windmills as the clean and temporary small step between the coal fired mountain wasters, the nuclear plants and the dams that create havoc with the rivers and fish,..... and whatever the next REALLY BIG THING turns out to be in our constant quest for cheap, and maybe even clean, power, such as fuel cells, solar cells, or whatever. Windmills will help to fill some of the gap between the kind of power we have and the kind of power we want. They'll help to fill the gap in technology for a few years. Windmills aren't perfect, but, like democracy, they're a helluva lot better than any of the known alternatives! Ahh, but they're messing with our view-sheds! Small price to pay for not pumping billions of tons of CO2, acids and other components into the environment, isn't it? Right now, the perfect power source does not exist. But when it does, there's gonna be some group opposed to it, for sure. The opposition to windmills proves it to me. Where is your long-term vision, guys?

Note: in the photo to the left, what you see is steam, not smoke. The harmful components are actually not visible. The steam does no harm.

Windmills aren't likely to be "the thing" forever. When we're done with the windmills, they can be dismantled in short order and the rare elements in them recycled! Try that with a coal plant and the tens of thousands of acres it has destroyed forever in the quest for fuel and the storage of ash. Try that with a nuclear power plant and all the used fuel rods and waste we still haven't figured out how to store. Try that with a hydro dam. Windmills will leave no permanent damage behind, once no longer needed. Neat trick!

As long as folks want more and more power in their homes and second homes (and cars), we're gonna have to keep adding more capacity, building more transmission lines, tearing up the land and oceans for oil production, and yes, paying the price in wars, taxes and endless death for stupid politicians to exploit third world nations (WV, too!) for their hydrocarbons. Having had a President who's family made many millions from oil, there hasn't been much opportunity for the "alternatives" to prove themselves.  Things began to change in 2009!  

For me, I look at West Virginia's windmills and my heart soars with pride. Fact is, they practically disappear in the view after a few miles, under most conditions. We seem to be  working hard to make this planet a wasteland in a few centuries. Can't we nature lovers just let one good idea be tested here in WV for our contribution, for our "sacrifice", toward saving this planet? Especially since WV seems to be so intent upon leveling its mountains to extract and burn every ounce of coal in the state. This IS the only good planet we know of, so let's not ruin it in our lifetime, please! We still have a small chance.

Why not let these private companies work with the private land holders, to see if there's still time to save the planet. I'll take the windmills over the fossil carbon alternatives, any day. We're ALL gonna have a hard time surviving the next hundred years... not just the birds and bats, but the humans, the whales, the porpoises, the wolves, the panda bears and the baby seals. If we keep searching for the last molecule of carbon to burn, we're all gonna be on the Endangered Species List before long. The cockroaches will do OK. They always do. We can just spend the next billion years re-evolving for our second chance. Maybe this wasn't the first time around... think of that! And, hey... when we stand on two legs again, there will be a brand new supply of hydrocarbons underground for us! Maybe we should write a big message on the moon: "Whatever you do, DON'T burn the freakin' hydrocarbons!", (sort of the forbidden fruit) for whatever replaces us in a billion, or so, years.  :-)

Windmills are one of the great ideas that have arrived on the scene and been put to the test. Federal and state tax incentives do us no harm when used to encourage new green technology that just may help to save this planet. Are we environmentalists with energy-consuming mountain homes really going to put the stake in the heart of the windmill industry? Wake up, folks. Don't let petty selfish attitudes about "your" view-sheds kill a great idea before it can even be tested.

Keeping WV green, may just mean making room for some windmills. There is no perfect solution. Hey, if you're gonna oppose all the windmills, then PLEASE, turn off your lights and air-conditioning while your fighting over them. 

Just my opinion.  'Nuf said, but here's some stuff on the subject by others....

Here's a quote (4-10-06) from a very prominent environmental spokesperson in DC: "My take is the Earth will do fine without us. If we can't be visionary enough to fix the problem, extinction is probably the best way for Mother Earth to deal with us!"  Hmmm. Cockroaches win. We lose. Me, I'll take the windmills!

Windmills on the Allegheny FrontOh, here's a good paper about wind power...  Wind Power: It's the Right Thing to do   (http://www.sbaer.uca.edu/research/sbi/2004/pdfs/18.pdf)
And another, that covers all aspects...  FAQ about Wind Energy  (http://www.awea.org/pubs/documents/FAQ2002%20-%20web.PDF)

Here's a Weekend Edition radio commentary (8-31-2003) from NPR's Brian Naylor about the windmill issues in West Virginia. Worth hearing.

NOTE: All links from this page open in a new, or different, browser window. If nothing seems to happen when you click a link, poke around on your open window buttons, or tabs, or whatever... it's there, somewhere. :-)

Worried about real estate values? I'm a Realtor, and I OWN some very valuable residential land just  2000 feet away from the windmills shown above (at The Preserve at New Creek Lake), so it's important to me, too. NO problem. Read this study by REPP (the Renewable Energy Policy Project: http://repp.org/), a very distinguished and reputable outfit, according to my friends at the National Environmental Trust (http://www.net.org/warming/) and the National Wildlife Federation Global Warming project (http://www.nwf.org/globalwarming/index.cfm):

"The Effect of Wind Development on Local property Values"  (http://repp.org/articles/static/1/binaries/wind_online_final.pdf)  This study sucks the wind out of all the claims about lower property values. Will I bet on it? Yup, I already have with my own property. If you know me, you know I ALWAYS put my money where my mouth is. :-)

Here's two more article links for a new (Dec 2009) study showing, again, no harm to real estate values.



See the August 2005, National Geographic article,  "Where Will The World Get Its Next Energy Fix?"    http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0508/feature1/fulltext.html

Want your own windmill generator?  See  http://www.windenergy.com/
More info about home generation can be found on the American Wind Energy Association's web site at  http://www.awea.org/smallwind.html

Interested in seeing a WV "windmill farm" for yourself?  Easy! Take a trip to Thomas, WV. Have lunch at the Purple Fiddle, near the Christmas Shop. Visit MountainMade for a huge selection of WV mountain products and crafts while in town (links open in a different window). Then drive 5 miles west on Rt. 219 (toward Parsons), to just where you cross the top of Backbone Mountain, at Sugarlands Road, and there you are. THAT'S what a windmill farm looks like. Find Thomas on Google. Here's the Google Map showing where you can park to be just 200' from a windmill. Change map base and scale as you wish. You can compare this to what a coal-fired power plant looks like by driving one mile toward Davis (from Thomas) on Rt. 32, then traveling about 15 miles east on Rt. 93. What you won't see are the tens of thousands of acres of destroyed land from the coal mining required to feed that power plant.  Enjoy your trip and let me know what you think after your visit.

Charlie Winfree, Realtor
Burlington, WV      E-mail: charlie@mtnhome4u.com

Click here for my Business Card

See my real estate web sites at http://www.mtnhome4u.com  and  http://ashtonwoodswv.com

Comments: send me yours, please!

"I just wanted to let you know that I really liked your site and what you have to say.  Having visited Thomas since my sister now permanently resides there, her place has a perfect view of the windmill adorned hillside.  I can tell you that she, my husband and I spend a lot of time sitting on her deck looking at the windmills and listening to the harmonious “whoosh” that they make.  That, along with a glass of wine, makes for a very relaxing evening.
I’m a lover of the environment, an animal activist and I’d like to think of myself as just a plain person with good sense - if you look at the windmills in the right perspective, they can be soothing and calming and are awesome up close.  I find them delightful and really look forward to my visits to Thomas – not only to see my sister, but to see the windmills.  I can honestly say that an evening spent sipping wine and looking at Mt Storm or our local Hatfield Power would not be very pleasant."
Steve & Darla M – residents of PA

"It was nice to read something positive about the windmills.  We went to the windmill farm near Thomas last summer (and we love the Purple Fiddle) when we first heard about the great debate over the windmills to be constructed in view of the cabin we had just started to build, so we were told.  We observed hardly any sound other than the wind.   We have visited windmill farms in PE Island and other places in Canada and have to admit to a fascination with them.  We all agreed there is no perfect solution for energy needs in the world we live in here in the USA."
D. D., Grant County, WV

"...some of my anti-windmill buddies would be shocked that I am writing this, but how long can we continue to be so dependent on fossil fuels for power, when there are so many alternatives that the energy brokers will not even explore?? Generating power with windmills is the nicest way I can think of to accomplish power generation without so much of an impact on our environment. I think they are definitely a step in the right direction."
Cindy H.,   Dailey, WV

"My husband and I went to Blackwater Falls on Labor Day on his motorcycle. Coming up the hill near the park entrance I glanced over to the right and saw the windmills for the first time. WOW were they beautiful. I had never expected to see anything like that. When we left we took another route, and went right past them. They were huge. So quiet and peaceful. We loved them. They were like a work of art. We're from Fairmont. Your pictures of them are great, but didn't see prices anywhere."
Dianne W.  (thanks Dianne, but sorry, they're not for sale) :-)

"I made a trip yesterday to Thomas and stopped to watch the windmills. As I drove back home, looking back at Mt. Storm power plant, I wonder why people are against the windmill farms. I would love to have some windmills near, to sit on my porch and watch them turn."
A new Mineral County resident

"Just got back from a trip visiting the windmill farm...  I think they're beautiful, sorta  majestic." 
JS, a Putnam County resident

Want to have an impact in what happens with windmills in WV? Send your comments (pro or con) to the Public Service Commission to let them have the benefit of your well thought out opinions about wind power.

Please, no whining about maybe being able to see windmills 3-10 miles away, with binoculars. Look at the real photos above and below. Go see some windmills. Sit there, underneath one and read a good book about global warming for a couple hours. Those windmills won't hurt you, but global warming will. Remember, every windmill will keep thousands of tons of hydrocarbons in the ground (where a higher power put them, hundreds of millions of years ago and there they should stay, dammit!), so that they don't impact our air, our health, our children's weather and the future of the planet. Try to be a hero and look at the big picture when you write that letter to the PSC. But if you can think of a really good, unselfish reason, why windmills are a bad idea and why you prefer the status quo (hey, we can always invade IRAN, for their oil, too), then go ahead and tell the PSC. They need to hear from everyone, with every viewpoint. Really.

Do it soon... the Public Service Commission is considering the issues for future laws and restrictions on windmills, some of which may be sensible and some of which may not be. This is not the time to promote foolish and selfish interests. Your children's lives are going to heavily impacted by what we do, or don't do, today.

Send those thoughts to:

Public Service Commission of West Virginia

201 Brooks Street, P.O. Box 812

Charleston, WV  25323

WV Windmill Tourists
Windmill Tourists are awed by the sight of 5 of the 44 windmill generators near Thomas, WV.
This view is looking end-on, down a row of these awesome creations.  The only sound is a hushed,
"whoosh, whoosh, whoosh", as the slowly spinning blades do their thing.  Each has a small
 red light at the top of the tower at night, but from the ground, you can't actually see them all.
Each of these turbines can power 500 average homes!   ZERO pollution!   ZERO CO2!
Hey FPL... we need a Visitor's Center here!   People are very interested!
Atlantic City wind turbines become a tourist attraction

Location:   Tucker and Preston Counties, West Virginia

Capacity:   66 Megawatts

Configuration:   44 Wind Turbines

The Mountaineer Wind Energy Center, owned and operated by FPL Energy, came online in December 2002
as the first wind farm in West Virginia, and the largest east of the Mississippi.

  Together the turbines generate 66 megawatts, enough to power 22,000 average homes - over 170 million kilowatt-hours per year

Each turbine is 328 ft high, with a rotor diameter of 231 ft

The facility utilizes the world’s latest wind turbine technology. Blade design allows for high efficiency and almost undetectable sound.

The Mountaineer facility is owned and operated by FPL Energy and the power generated is sold to Exelon CorporationCommunity Energy markets the power to socially and environmentally responsible electricity consumers in the DC and Mid-Atlantic region.