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Roanoke Group
of the Virginia Chapter

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Roanoke Group Registers
Support for Poor Mountain Wind Farm

October 13, 2010
Dan Crawford
Conservation Chair
Roanoke Group, Sierra Club

After a careful four-month process involving lengthy discussions and a visit to the proposed site, the Executive Committee of the Roanoke Group of the Sierra Club has voted to conditionally endorse the proposal for 15 to 18 wind turbines on Poor Mountain in Roanoke County. In addition to requiring that all regulatory hurdles be cleared, the group stipulates that during the state of Virginia's new Permit by Rule process, Invenergy must show that the project will neither permanently compromise the quality of Tier III waters in Bottom Creek nor wipe out local plant and wildlife species that are threatened or endangered.

"We believe that the site meets Sierra Club standards and that it is time to act" said the group's Chair, Bill Modica.  "These conditions identify our main concerns, and we think that the developer can address them if proper measures are taken."  Modica noted that opponents of the project, including some club members, had been given ample opportunity to express their views in several meetings.

Dan Crawford, the group's conservation chair, pointed out that the project has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 98,000 tons annually, replacing some of the electricity generated by coal-fired power plants.  That amount represents the CO2 emissions of 20,000 cars.  The project is estimated to generate up to 45 million watts of electricity, enough to power about 10,000 homes.

"We have to start using clean, renewable energy," said Crawford, "and this site offers an opportunity to begin doing so in Virginia." Crawford also noted that the Tier III waters of Bottom Creek are several miles from the project and that the state's new Permit by Rule process will require extensive studies of birds, bats and other wildlife with a public opportunity for comment as well as a public meeting in the Roanoke area.

Bob Egbert, who formerly chaired the local group, authored the resolution, taking care to stipulate protection for Bottom Creek and for threatened and endangered species.
Sierra Club's action came after four months of study culminating in a site visit by most of the committee members to the proposed site, a 2,000-acre privately owned tract on Poor Mountain.  While there is opposition to the site from some local residents, it was deemed to be acceptable due to its good wind resources, ready access to power transmission lines, and proximity to a population area where there is significant demand for electricity.  

About the Roanoke Group of the Sierra Club:
The Roanoke Group is a unit of the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club.   The Sierra Club, founded in 1892 by the legendary John Muir, is the largest grass-roots environmental organization in the world.   We work on local, state, national, and global environmental issues.  We sponsor programs, social, educational and recreational activities for our members and the public including the popular monthly "Earth Friendly Friday" programs. Our members, about 700 strong, live in Roanoke, Botetourt, Alleghany, Bath, Rockbridge, Franklin, Henry, and Patrick Counties, and the cities and towns within them. The diversity of our area ranges from the largest metropolitan area in southwest Virginia to some of the most scenic and remote mountain regions of the state. See our website.
http://virginia.sierraclub.org/roanoke/ for more details.


Roanoke Group, Sierra Club (Passed October 13, 2010)

The Roanoke Group of the Sierra Club conditionally supports approval and completion
of Invenergy's wind energy project for 15 to 18 turbines on private property on Poor
Mountain in Roanoke County subject to the following conditions:

1. The project must not permanently compromise the quality of the state-designated
Tier III waters of Bottom Creek. Invenergy's mitigation plan must meet this
criterion to the satisfaction of the Roanoke Group's Ex Com.

2. The project must not lead to the destruction of local plant or animal populations
on site that are designated as threatened or endangered. Invenergy's mitigation
plan must meet this criterion to the satisfaction of the Roanoke Group's Ex Com.

3. Invenergy must meet the existing statutory or regulatory requirements of all
applicable authorities who have jurisdiction in this matter including, but not limited
to: Roanoke County, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and Federal Aviation Administration, on
matters concerning environmental impact, public safety, decommissioning
provisions and construction standards.

The Roanoke Group supports the Poor Mt. project because it should lead to reduced
greenhouse gas emissions, reduced particulate and other emissions, and a reduced
dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels. The project is consistent with Sierra Club

The Sierra Club's national board of directors has identified global warming as the
greatest challenge to natural systems and therefore gives top priority to advocating
measures, including onshore wind power, to address the challenge. National Sierra
Club policy supports the direct use of wind power as an alternate source of energy.
We accept the urgency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below
1990 levels by 2050, as called for by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change. The transition away from fossil fuels, in combination with conservation and
efficiency measures, would make that possible.
Invenergy's proposal has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by approximately
98,000 tons a year, the equivalent of taking about 20,000 cars off local roads.
The proposed turbine sites appear on National Renewable Energy Laboratory maps
to have Class 4 (Good) or better wind resources.
The proposal meets the acceptability criteria of Sierra Club's Wind Siting Advisory.