Wind turbines nearly as tall as the Washington Monument standing on top of North Mountain in Botetourt County would not pose a danger to passing aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration has determined.
The finding, issued Friday after nearly a year of study, is a key step forward for Apex Clean Energy, which plans to build what would be the state’s first commercial wind farm on the remote ridgeline.
At first, the FAA ruled in January that the 25 turbines – each one as tall as 549 feet – would be a hazard. But that was based on a standard rule that presumes any structure taller than 499 feet would interfere with air navigation.
Further evaluation found that each turbine “would have no substantial adverse effect on the safe and efficient utilization of the navigable airspace by aircraft or the operation of air navigation facilities,” according to 25 notices posted Friday on the FAA's website.
Apex, which also must obtain a permit from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, has said it hopes to have the wind farm in operation by the end of 2018.
The Charlottesville company is still looking for an electric utility or other customer to purchase the electricity generated by the turbines, which it says will be enough to power up to 20,000 homes.