Wind developer got a break, Starcher writes

Steve Korris Jul. 25, 2008, 1:37pm


CHARLESTON, W. Va. (Legal Newsline) - Wind power developer Beech Ridge Energy caught a break it didn't deserve when the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals approved its plan to build tall turbines on ridges in Greenbrier County, said Justice Larry Starcher.

In a July 17 dissent he claimed the court improperly allowed Beech Ridge Energy to provide vital information after the Public Service Commission approved its plan.

The commission should have required the information before approval, he wrote.

"Before the State sanctions injuring both private property values and the aesthetic value of beautiful landscapes, the public utility must publicly demonstrate the scope of the injury as part of the record before the Commission grants any permits," he wrote.

Four of five justices agreed in June that the commission acted properly. They rejected arguments of property owners who opposed the turbines at commission hearings.

Starcher said he would have sent the dispute back to the commission for further study.

"It is not enough to say, as the majority implies, that those landowners can file a nuisance suit in the future," he wrote.

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