While the 52-minute film by director Tom Hansell has a clear anti-coal point of view, it presented a reasonably-balanced account of the years-long fight that divided Wise County residents and became a rallying cry for clean air activisits.
One part of the film, however, offered a bit of irony for Floyd. When the camera focused on the banner and logo for “Wise Up Dominion,” the organization formed to block the power plant, it featured a ridge line with electricity-generating wind turbines — signalling the group’s support of the cleaner, wind-energy generating of electricity instead of a coal-fired plant.
The irony comes from the 11 people I saw among the crowd applauding the documentary — the same 11 who have appeared before the Floyd County Board of Supervisors in the last two months to oppose construction of wind generators here.
The opposition demonstrates the “not-in-my-backyard” syndrome that creates some hypocrisy in such debates. It’s easy to support clean-air alternatives for energy when those alternatives aren’t proposed for your backyard.
I cruised by the power plant construction site in Wise County a couple of weeks ago. The plant — expected to cost at least $1.5 billion — is scheduled to open in the next year or two. It will provide more than $400 million in annual tax revenue to cash-strapped Wise County.
But coal is not a “clean energy” alternative and even the best efforts by coal companies to promote the fantasy of “clean coal,” it never will be. Solar, wind and Geo-thermal offer some cleaner alternatives but when you suggest constructing wind generator farms on Wills Ridge and other ridge lines you get dire warnings about damage to the county’s fragile water table and destruction of the area’s “view shed.”
Like the coal-fired power plant debate in Wise County, the wind generator issue has sharply divided residents of our county. Facts get lost in passionate arguments from both sides.
As counties like Floyd struggle to find new sources of revenue, proposals to construct a power-generating facility cause eyes to light up in meetings of governmental bodies. Those who support or oppose such projects need to provide our elected officials with facts, not hyperbole.
The Electricity Fairy offers a clear example of how gimmicks and photo ops don’t work. The opponents of Dominion Power‘s plant paraded a mile-long petition before the TV cameras, sang 60s-style protest songs and even chained themselves to the fence leading to the construction project.
None of it worked. The company gained all the required permits and approvals to build the plant and construction is underway.
And “WiseUpDominiong.Org,” the web site of the organization that fought the plant, is gone from the Internet. The domain name is up for sale.