Exact locations and the number of jobs are not known, but two businesses are taking steps to develop wind farms in the region. Dominion and BP Wind announced last week that they are considering sites in Wise and Tazewell counties.
Del. Terry Kilgore, a Republican from Gate City, Va., is supporting the effort. “I am thrilled to see Dominion and BP Wind take the initial steps for clean, green renewable electricity in Wise and Tazewell counties,” he said.
We are encouraged to see alternative energy sites considered in the coal-producing region. For decades, leaders have talked about how declining coal jobs have to be replaced with alternatives.
It is unclear how many jobs will come from this endeavor, but these potential wind facilities are the first projects announced since Dominion and BP said last April they had entered into an agreement to jointly own, operate and develop wind energy projects in Virginia.
Locally, Dominion already is building a $1.8 billion power plant in Wise County, largely to meet the energy needs of northern and eastern Virginia. Numerous environmental groups have tried to fight its construction and air-permitting process. They worry about heavy metals in the air and water from burning coal to generate electricity. They wonder if the safeguards will really keep them safe.
For generations, coal has been the bedrock of our nation’s electricity strategy, and coal now generates approximately half our electricity. But more and more Americans say they want to move away from fossil fuels to cleaner, renewable sources. Finding sites to generate wind power is a first step. We particularly support finding wind sites in former coal-producing areas to offset job losses.
The exact size of each project and scope of economic benefits have not been determined. It seems most likely that a wind farm could spring up in Tazewell County, where earlier this month Dominion’s Virginia electric utility subsidiary and BP Wind Energy bought about 2,560 acres of land.
On Thursday, Thomas Farrell II, Dominion’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, called the plans a “small but important step for Virginia’s nascent wind industry, an industry whose roots must grow stronger if the state is to achieve its renewable energy goals.”
We agree. Change is not going to come immediately, but building wind sites is one step to diversify the energy supply, something that is long overdue.