Mucking up the mountains – more to follow

who needs trees we got windmills

Dear friend of the Ridge Law,

This week North Carolina’s General Assembly will consider a bill to enable a private wind developer to construct a wind farm with massive turbines in the Highlands of Roan landscape in Mitchell County.  Please see the attached picture to see where the turbines will go if this bill becomes law.

House Bill 694 (H694) and its companion bill in the Senate will allow the wind developer to erect 20 wind turbines, each of which will be three times taller than Sugar Top.  The project will violate NC’s Mountain Ridge Protection Act (our “Ridge Law”), so the bill would grant an unprecedented exemption from the provisions of the Ridge Law.  This is a very dangerous proposition and could bring an end to ridgetop protection throughout western NC.

The bill’s sponsor in the House, Phillip Frye, says this will be a “temporary demonstration project,” but he admits the project will last at least 30 years.

The project will be highly visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway, from the Appalachian Trail at Round Bald, Engine Gap and Jane Bald, and falls directly in the primary viewshed of the new observation platform at the Roan Mountain Rhododendron Gardens.  All of these are areas where conservation organizations and the US Forest Service have been active since the 1950s.


To oppose this legislation, please CALL and WRITE the following legislators on MONDAY, June 6th or early in the day on TUESDAY June 7th. PLEASE ENCOURAGE FRIENDS AND FAMILY TO SEND EMAILS.

Edgar Starnes (Edgar.Starnes@ncleg.net 919-733-5931)  Rep. Starnes is a conservative Republican who loves the mountains as they are and opposes the bill.  Please thank him for his opposition.  He needs to be able to go to the floor to state that he is hearing a lot of opposition from the mountains.

Ruth Samuelson (Ruth.Samuelson@ncleg.net 919-715-3009)  Rep. Samuelson is a Republican from Mecklenburg County and is a solid supporter of conservation.  She has the authority to keep this bill from coming to the floor.  Please tell her that this bill has too many questions around it to come up for a vote.  Is Appalachian State really supporting the bill?  (No, their support for it is weakening and they did not ask to have their name in the title of the bill.)  Will Duke Power really buy the power generated as Rep. Frye has assured?  (We do not know.  Duke has made no commitment to purchase the small amount of power this project would generate.)  Why has there been no visual analysis done?  Rep. Frye said in the Environment Committee that the turbines would only be 90 feet tall.  Isn’t it true that they will be over 300 feet tall?  (Yes;  Rep. Frye says he did the math wrong.  He thought 80 meters equaled 90 feet ….)

Phillip Frye (Phillip.Frye@ncleg.net 919-733-5661).  This is Phillip Frye’s bill.  Please be polite, but tell him why you don’t want these turbines in the Roan landscape for 30 years.  He says he has 100% support from folks in Mitchell County for this project and needs to hear that there is some real opposition.  He is a decent fellow and will listen to you if you speak respectfully.  He will not be inclined to hear arguments from people from outside Avery, Mitchell and Yancey Counties, so if you’re local or own property in the area, please point that out.

Rick Glazier
(Rick.Glazier@ncleg.net 919-733-5601)  Representative Glazier is a co-sponsor of the bill for reasons no one can figure out.  He is from the Fayetteville area.  Ask him to oppose the bill and say why you oppose it.

Here is a sample comment:  While I support renewable energy, the Blue Ridge Mountains are not the place for industrial-scale wind farms.  The mountains of western NC are where my family hikes, picnics and goes to enjoy the spectacular natural scenery.  This 30 year demonstration project will spoil the unfragmented habitat of the Greater Roan Highlands, ruin the scenery in a world-famous conservation area, and will yield no appreciable benefits as far as reducing our reliance on coal.  The project is too small to make a difference in our energy mix and it is too big for a treasured landscape like the Roan.  Please withdraw the bill from consideration.

PLEASE MAKE PHONE CALLS – YOU DO NOT NEED TO SPEAK WITH THE REPRESENTATIVE.  LEAVING A MESSAGE IS FINE.  IDENTIFY THE BILL YOU ARE CONCERNED WITH AS House Bill 694

don

Author: don

Don Hendershot's love affair with nature began early, growing up in the swamps and bayous of Louisiana. His fascination with the outdoors led to a degree in Wildlife Conservation from Louisiana Tech University.

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