ABINGDON — The Southwestern Virginia Technology Council on Monday announced its endorsement of a pair of wind energy projects under consideration in Wise and Tazewell counties.
Dominion Resources and BP Wind Energy began analyzing potential sites in the two counties earlier this year. The companies are looking at a wind energy location atop East River Mountain in Tazewell County and along Black Mountain in Wise County.
There are three test sites in Wise County along the Kentucky border from Big Stone Gap to the Pound area.
If wind data now being collected proves viable, Dominion Resources and BP Wind Energy have proposed to erect between 50 and 60 wind turbines for the Wise County project to produce a maximum combined 150 megawatts of electricity.
The SWVTC said wind-generated energy is one of the lowest priced renewable energy technologies available today, costing between four and six cents per kilowatt-hour, depending upon the wind resource and financing of a particular project.
“These projects utilize private property, and in the case of the Wise project, some formerly surface mined sites that have been reclaimed,” said SWVTC Executive Director Esther Bolling.
SWVTC member Richard Settle submitted the resolution of support from the council. He said the projects play a role in the region’s emergence as a site for alternative energy industries.
“The Tazewell County project is planned along the top of East River Mountain on private land that is marginally useful for timbering and largely unsuitable for any other purpose,” Settle said.
“I see these projects as an important part of the emerging alternative and renewable energy sector in Southwest Virginia and the commonwealth. The region has always been at the forefront of helping supply the country with its timber, coal and natural gas resources, and now we can help generate much needed electricity using our abundant — some say endless — wind resource,” Settle added.
Dominion is also building a $1.8 billion coal-fired generating station in Wise County.
Last week a Richmond circuit court judge ruled a provision in one of the plant’s emissions permits, involving mercury emissions, did not comply with federal air standards.
Dominion said eliminating the provision from the state emissions permit would not be a problem and is forging ahead on construction of the 585 megawatt plant in St. Paul.
Dominion wants to have the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center operational in 2012. The utility began construction on the facility 13 months ago.