Letters for Nov. 27 Edition

Some facts about proposed wind turbines


Regarding the Rocky Forge project by Apex in northern Botetourt County, here are some facts regarding wind turbines planned for installation on North Mountain.

Wind is intermittent. Power produced by wind cannot be turned on or off as needed. Wind energy does not stop emissions from fossil fuel plants. Even when wind energy is being generated, fossil fuel power plants must remain active and producing emissions to fill in power gaps as wind energy fluctuates or stops. This is most apparent in the summer months when wind speeds here are at their lowest, yet power demand is at its highest.  Unlike some other states, wind in our local mountains is gusty, not providing a sustained velocity ideal for wind turbines. Realistically, the Rocky Forge project, at best, is expected to collectively produce 10MW of intermittent power, not the project’s “installed capacity” of 75MW.

Each tower is incredibly massive: proposed turbines are 550 feet tall, now potentially 680 feet tall, the equivalent of two football fields end-to-end, but vertically! Towers this high present a significant hazard to gliders, private planes and military training flights, which occur routinely in this area.

Wind turbines kill birds and bats. Apex has agreed to stop turbine blades turning from dusk to dawn through the summer months to help protect endangered bats– an immediate 50 percent loss of power generating potential during this period when power is needed most!

Turbine malfunctions can cause fires, and being so remote from first responders and on such rugged terrain, any fire could quickly become uncontained and uncontrolled, devastating wildlife and mountain habitat.

Wind turbine blades generate infrasound as they beat the air which is felt, not heard. This is lower than a train rumble but far more concentrated– and it travels much farther than audible sound. A November 2012 Popular Science magazine article says infrasound effects have been studied for use as a military weapon! Infrasound might stop pollinating insects, too, explaining why flowering southern California hillsides where wind turbines were erected decades ago are now barren grasslands devoid of flowers.

Quoting Mark P. Mills, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute,  “‘Renewable energy’ is a misnomer since wind turbines are built from non-renewable materials and they wear out.  Old equipment must be decommissioned, generating millions of tons of waste. Building one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel and 45 tons of plastic. When electricity comes from wind power every unit of energy produced or mile traveled requires far more materials and land than fossil fuels.”  Turbine decommissioning is also problematic because carbon-fiber blades are not recyclable and their sheer size may prevent transport and acceptance at landfills.

The Rocky Forge project will not lower electricity costs for any Botetourt County residents (Apex never claimed it would) and will have no measurable effect on climate, but will have an immediate negative impact on natural mountain views and native habitat, impacting tourism including hunting and birding.

Many proponents of renewable energy mention wind and solar, omitting an existing, on-demand, renewable energy source that Virginia has been producing locally for decades: hydropower. The Bath County pumped-storage hydro facility (2772MW, largest of its kind in the world, since 1985), the pumped-storage hydro facility at Smith Mountain Lake (636MW, since 1960s), and the hydroelectric dam at Claytor Lake (75MW, since 1939) combined produce over 45 times more renewable energy than the Rocky Forge “installed capacity” and nearly 350 times the likely capacity. Knowing we enjoy so much existing, on-demand, renewable energy in this region today, perhaps the paltry, intermittent benefit from Rocky Forge will not justify all of the costs to the environment and quality of life for Botetourt citizens?

Eric Claunch
Eagle Rock


Thanks go all who participated in the Coat Drive


As Thanksgiving approaches, we wish to extend our deepest thanks to everyone in the community who donated new and used winter coats to our Coat Drive during October. We are happy to announce that we collected a total of 266 winter coats, most of which were for children and youth, but we also received a good many for adults as well.

We also wish to thank all the volunteers who helped with the Coat Drive – from picking up donations to sorting and delivering coats to schools in the county.

We are blessed to live in such a generous community, and we are thankful for each and every person who helped make the Coat Drive a success.

Together, we do make a difference! Happy Thanksgiving!

Melissa Lucas, Botetourt Resource Center

Teresa Rothwell, Solomon’s Mission



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