Mount Storm – Coal & Wind; Side by Side

We were recently in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, near the Virginia and Maryland borders. Driving along US 48 and other highways we were constantly presented with large numbers of wind turbines along the mountain ridges. Actually, we were kind of lost and didn’t expect this much wind energy generation in the mountains of what has always been “coal” country.

Mount Storm Power Station

Amongst all these towers of turbines, we did come across one old fashioned, genuine, smoke-belching, coal-fired generating plant, the generating station at Mount Storm in Grant County, WV.  Mount Storm actually consists of three generating plants that were built in the mid-’60s and early ’70s,  and from day one were very controversial. The power company, Dominion Resources, failed to tell its employees and nearby residents that its smokestacks were polluting the air with toxic wastes such as asbestos. Lots of people were cursed with lung diseases, including mesothelioma before Dominion cleaned up its act.

Another problem is the 1,200-acre man-made lake that sits next to the plants and provides cooling waters for the generators. The lake’s entire volume of 234,000 gallons is turned over every couple of days and the water temperature never falls below 60 degrees. The resulting thermal pollution brings its own list of not so friendly environmental problems.

A further difficulty involves the disposal of the unburnt ashes from the 15,000 tons of coal burned each day. The “solution” has been to create mountains of coal ashes that are covered with a layer of earth, much like Rumpke creates mountains of garbage at their landfills. Who knows what, over time, is leaching out of these cinder mountains and into the water supply?

Nearby strip mine operation.

In researching Mount Storm I took a look at the area using Google Earth. The beautiful mountains of West Virginia hide another huge problem, the not so widely scattered surface mines from which the power station’s coal is derived. Looking down from Google’s satellite you’ll notice white spots among the green forest. Zooming in these white spots become strip mines and all the horrors that accompany this form of raping mother earth.

Visible line of wind turbines along a mountain ridge.

That same Google satellite will also reveal small dots along the mountain ridgelines. Each of these dots is connected by a service road and each, upon closer inspection, is a wind turbine pumping out clean renewable electric energy.

Dominion Resources is a partner in a turbine generating effort called Nedpower and with its partners operates a wind farm that consists of 135 generators supplying 264 megawatts of clean electricity for the people of the Mid-Atlantic states. This is not near equal to what the coal generators produce but their impact on the land is minimal by comparison.

Now let’s talk about Trump’s claim that wind turbines cause cancer. Well, any thinking person knows that Trump just pulled that claim out of his unscientific rectum. There is absolutely zero evidence of wind causing cancer but there is infinite evidence that generated toxins cause a large variety of cancers. There is also the overwhelming evidence that burning fossil fuels is disrupting the earth’s climate in such a way that may be irreversible.

Back in 2006, I came across a huge wind farm outside of Sweetwater, Texas but there was no coal-fired plant sitting amongst those over 200 towers to make a direct comparison with. What I saw in West Virginia provided that contrast and after seeing it there’s no doubt which I would rather have down the road from me. Matter of fact, I own enough land to have a couple of turbines sitting on and providing me some extra income from lease agreements.

Mount Storm Wind Farm

 

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