The forests in this part of the state are among the most biologically diverse in the world. Although stressed by two centuries of development, including 100 years of underground coal mining, the steep ridges and valleys still support a staggeringly diverse tree canopy, dozens of herb and mushroom species, plentiful stocks of perch, trout and catfish, a variety of native and migratory birds, a veritable rainbow of salamanders as well as coyotes, deer, black bears and bobcats.
Using wind turbine tax rules established by the state in 2007, the researchers calculated that a wind farm of the size proposed for Coal River Mountain would generate $1.74 million in annual tax revenue for Raleigh County. That’s roughly equal to the total coal taxes the county collected for the 2007-2008 fiscal year, according to the state auditor.
The portion of added tax revenue that would arise from surface mining Coal River Mountain was estimated at $36,000 a year for the next 17 years, at which point the resource would be exhausted. But a wind farm could keep generating revenue indefinitely for the county. It would also generate several hundred construction jobs, and several dozen permanent maintenance jobs.
Luring a turbine production plant while continuing to mine coal underground could generate more than 1,000 jobs…