Articles from Virginia
The lawsuit, filed last December by Virginians for Responsible Energy and 14 residents of Botetourt and Rockbridge counties, asserts that the DEQ permit should be vacated because the agency cut corners in a process that ignored the adverse impacts of building turbines more than 600 feet tall along a remote county ridgeline. Friday’s hearing did not address the merits of the case, instead focusing on several defenses raised by DEQ and Apex on procedural grounds.
Since announcing plans for the wind farm in 2015, Apex Clean Energy has seen a number of setbacks. The most recent came last month, when county zoning administrator Drew Pearson determined that Apex had missed a May 26 deadline for county approval of a site plan. The Charlottesville company did not qualify for an exemption passed by the General Assembly for some projects that were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pearson ruled.
Instead of requiring financial assurance, as mandated by Virginia law, the Board of Supervisors agreed to a scheme where no assurance whatsoever would be required for the first five years of the project, and no assurance covering the full cost of decommissioning would be required until the 30th year of the project, even though the useful life of the solar panels is only 15-20 years. But the real problem with the decommissioning scheme is even worse than that. The board was somehow persuaded to agree that the cost of decommissioning would be reduced—“offset” is the term used—by the salvage value of the solar panels installed on the property.
Instead of requiring financial assurance, as mandated by Virginia law, the Board of Supervisors agreed to a scheme where no assurance whatsoever would be required for the first five years of the project, and no assurance covering the full cost of decommissioning would be required until the 30th year of the project, even though the useful life of the solar panels is only 15-20 years. ...The board was somehow persuaded to agree that the cost of decommissioning would be reduced—“offset” is the term used—by the salvage value of the solar panels installed on the property.
APEX Energy submitted its plans for Rocky Forge Wind for review by county zoning officials. VDOT and local emergency response officials will review the construction details to make sure it meets state transportation, local zoning and public safety regulations.
Opponents have said the giant turbines would be an eyesore, make too much noise, generate shadow flicker and pose a threat to a scenic, mountainous area and its wildlife. A lawsuit filed last year seeks to stop the project by challenging a permit issued by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The state has asked that the case be dismissed; an Aug. 20 hearing is scheduled in Botetourt County Circuit Court.
Apex Clean Energy Inc. continues working toward a day when wind turbines standing atop Botetourt County’s North Mountain might generate enough energy to power up to 21,000 homes each year.
On a 3-2 vote following a public hearing, the planning commission decided that the Bealeton project was not in accord with the county’s comprehensive plan. Making sure that a project is in compliance with the plan is the first step in an approval process that moves on to consideration of a special zoning exception and then to the granting of permits.
The Culpeper County Planning Commission recently reached a unanimous consensus that a new zoning district should not be created for solar utility projects. Moving forward, the commission will continue discussing a solar utility ordinance.
The Federal Aviation Administration has found, once again, that wind turbines high above a Botetourt County mountaintop will not pose a hazard to air navigation.
Strata Solar on Friday afternoon pulled its application to build a utility scale power plant in Culpeper County, a week after the planning commission scrutinized, then denied, the request and neighbors intensely opposed it. This is the second time in as many years that an out-of-state solar company has abruptly yanked its request to build a big project on farmland in Culpeper after facing similar scrutiny and public opposition.
Eskridge is concerned that wind turbine EMFs could negatively affect the conch that bury themselves in the sandy, muddy bottom of the Chesapeake Bay. ...Dominion representatives told watermen that the EMF from a cable would be comparable to that of a “toaster oven.” [T]he fishermen questioned how that comparison was determined and whether even a small EMF could negatively affect a conch. No scientific study has been done.
Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina are teaming up on an effort to kickstart wind energy and economic development off their shores. The new initiative provides a framework for the three states to "cooperatively promote, develop, and expand offshore wind energy and the accompanying industry supply chain and workforce," they said in a joint press release.
Dominion Energy’s two massive wind turbines loom large off of Virginia Beach’s coast.
Dominion Energy customers’ monthly electric bills have jumped nearly 29% since 2007 under a series of electric utility-backed bills enacted since then — and look set to rise another 45% over the next decade, the State Corporation Commission said. ...It said Dominion’s push to expand its solar and wind generating capacity will drive much of the rise in bills over the next decade. ...The SCC report said Dominion’s latest long-term plan, which details a multi-billion-dollar investment in renewable energy, will boost the average residential customer’s monthly bill from $116.69 now to more than $168 by 2030.
In a step forward for a proposed wind farm in Botetourt County, the FAA found this week that turbines reaching as far as 680 feet into the sky from the top of a mountain would “not constitute a hazard to air navigation.” It was the second time the agency has determined that the renewable energy project, to be located in a remote and rural spot about 17 miles from the nearest airport, would not pose a threat.
The massive towers now installed off Virginia Beach were assembled in Nova Scotia and brought down on a special ship that held them vertically. Driven into the sea floor like nails, the structures now stand 620 feet above the waves. The Washington Monument, by contrast, is 555 feet tall. On Monday it took a tour boat five hours round trip to visit the towers, which occupy a 112,800-acre site Dominion leases from the federal government.
The most vocal critic of Rocky Forge, however, proved to be Amsterdam District Supervisor Steve Clinton, who described the proposed wind farm as having “overstated benefits and understated costs,” and suggested, “maybe this isn’t worth it.” Martin, who represents the Blue Ridge District, stated that he supported wind energy but opposed the height increase. He also expressed exasperation that Apex still hasn’t secured passage to transport the massive turbine parts up the mountain, telling company representatives, “You’ve had four and a half years to get a right of way.”
If wind turbines are allowed to tower up to 680 feet into the sky from a Botetourt County mountaintop, they would be higher than the tallest ones currently in the United States. But should the county’s board of supervisors approve a request from Apex Clean Energy to build up to 22 modern windmills as tall as a 50-story building, it wouldn’t necessarily set a new record.
The commissioners are set to consider an ordinance and permit amendment that would allow Charlottesville-based Apex Clean Energy to move ahead with a wind farm powered by turbines of up to 680 feet tall.