Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

Mountaineer Wind Energy Center

Sept. 23, 2002
Photos by Vivian Stockman

On Sept. 23, operators of the Mountaineer Wind Energy Center began erecting the first of 44 windmills, which will stretch along 6 miles of Backbone Mountain in Tucker Co.

 Here stand the towers' bases and middles, awaiting the top section as well as the blades and generator unit. Once complete the structures will rise about 228 feet above the mountain. The two sections here (photo taken on Backbone Mtn.) were already visible from Rt. 32 coming out of Canaan Valley up into Davis. The company has promised to reclaim the area around the base of the towers to the specifications of the landowner, which in this case is mostly the Western Pocahontas land company. A preexisting quarry road is also at the site.


A concrete pad about 13 feet in circumference and holding up to 250 cubic yards of concrete serves as the wind machine's base. The unit in the background is a nacelle, which houses the electricity generator and which holds the blades. There are three blades, each about 115 feet long. Unlike older wind machines, these blades rotate slowly, presenting less of a threat for birds. The solid towers (as opposed to old steel mesh towers) also are better for birds. The modern turbines are much quieter than older windmills.

Will the string of towers along Backbone Mountain mar the views? In some areas, the wind machines themselves have become tourist attractions. Still, folks are right to want to keep a close eye on the explosion in wind farms. Some companies may be truly dedicated to working to address the concerns of local communities, while others may not care about viewsheds or birds or reclaiming the construction site. Mountaineer Wind Energy Center expects these towers to be in service about 25 years. Removing the towers and reclaiming the site is already figured into the project budget.

A crane moves a mid section of a wind tower into place. Picture taken from Thomas, W. Va. The completed wind machines will be close to twice the height shown here. 


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