Plans for West Virginia's first wind farm, 75 MW to be developed by Atlantic Renewable Energy Corp, are now being considered by the state's regulatory authorities. The plans breezed through public hearings held by the Public Service Commission without opposition in October. The wind farm, larger than any other in the eastern US, would be installed on Backbone Mountain, about five kilometres (three miles) from a major substation and three 138 kV lines that could feed the power into regional power pool that serves the densely-populated eastern seaboard, including New Jersey and Maryland. Atlantic Renewable, which has developed wind plants in Pennsylvania and New York, hopes to start building in spring. At packed public hearings in the small towns of Thomas and Parsons in the Allegheny Mountains, residents were told that although some of the wind turbines would be visible from Thomas, from parts of a nearby highway and a recreational area, visual impact would be minimal. The site is on a ridge at an elevation of about 1070 metres (3500 feet) on land where sand and gravel are mined and where there is commercial forestry. The economy of West Virginia, once a major coal-producing state, is ailing and many local officials see the temporary and permanent jobs created by the wind farm -- as well as the chance it will become a tourist attraction -- as a benefit.
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