Company Scales Back Wind Farm Proposal
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) _ A company seeking the first government permit to build an offshore wind farm has dramatically scaled back its plans along Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
Dennis Quaranta, president of Winergy LLC, said he will ask the Army Corps of Engineers to consider a permit for as few as 10 windmills off Smith Island in the Atlantic Ocean, down from the 271 windmills the company initially sought.
The new proposal also would locate the wind farm several miles farther out to sea to appease Eastern Shore residents and environmentalists.
Winergy has applied for offshore permits in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Massachusetts, but with little success.
Winergy proposed its Eastern Shore plan 12 months ago, but has since amended it three times. Initially, the company sought permission for 271 windmills, each rising 400 feet, off the coast near the Virginia-Maryland line. The windmills cost about $3.5 million each.
Objections were filed by the Navy and NASA, which operates the Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, and Winergy downshifted. It pitched a blueprint of 221 windmills, and then for 150 turbines, which would be built less than three miles from Smith Island, within sight of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and two national wildlife refuges.
Environmentalists said the turbine blades might kill migratory birds and waterfowl. In response, Quaranta proposed moving the project farther off shore, between 5 and 12 miles from Smith Island, and reducing the number of turbines.
Environmental groups and wildlife experts still have concerns.
``There’s some advantages to the changes,″ said Susan Rice, manager of Fisherman Island and the Eastern Shore of Virginia national wildlife refuges. ``But there’s still migrating species offshore in the areas they’re talking about now.″
Rick Henderson, a Corps of Engineers official in Norfolk studying the proposed wind farm, said each turbine could produce a maximum of 3.5 megawatts of electricity a day. With 10 windmills, that would mean enough power for 35,000 homes.
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