Virginia community considers permit for 75 MW wind project

The five-member Botetourt County, Virginia, Planning Commission voted Jan. 11 to approve Apex Clean Energy’s proposed 75-MW Rocky Forge wind power project.

There were about 50 people in attendance, and of the 14 who spoke about the wind project, 10 were in full support of Rocky Forge Wind, Apex said on its website.

The project evidently still requires approval from the County Board of Supervisors. The next supervisors’ meeting is scheduled Jan. 26, according to the county website. The agenda for that meeting had not yet been posted on the website.

The Planning Commission voted to approve the permit in accord with §15.2-2232 of the Code of Virginia, in addition to a Special Exception Permit, with possible conditions, in the Forest Conservation Use District to construct a wind energy system, utility-scale, on two parcels, the first being 4,350 acres and the second being 1,520 acres. That’s according to the commission’s agenda, which was posted on the website.

About 200 acres located within the boundaries of these properties will be used for up to 25 wind turbines and ancillary equipment and the related construction, operation and maintenance thereof. The wind turbines will be no greater than 550 feet in height and are proposed to be located along about 3.5 miles of the southernmost portion of North Mountain.

Apex has said that it intends to use existing high-voltage power lines to minimize need for new infrastructure. The company also said on its website that the project will entail up to 150 jobs during construction as well as about seven full-time jobs for operation and maintenance.

On its website, Apex also said that it envisions construction to start on the project in 2017.

Apex has already made an early submission to the PJM Interconnection about Rocky Forge. Apex seeks to interconnect the wind power project to the transmission infrastructure operated by Dominion unit Virginia Electric Power Co.

Apex installed meteorological towers in the county last year to gather data on wind speeds and directions.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Tennessee, Apex has announced plans for the 71-MW Crab Orchard wind project in Cumberland County, Tenn. There Apex plans to build between 20-to-23 wind turbines by the end of 2017, according to a Jan. 12 article in the Crossville Chronicle.

An Apex website indicated that Cumberland County, Tenn., has verified good wind resources, existing electric transmission lines, much commercial farmland and is in an area that avoids sensitive military and environmental areas.

Crab Orchard would also create about 50 jobs during construction.

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Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 22 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants.

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