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BP admits mistake on wind tower in Botetourt County

BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va – Oil giant BP broke the rules in Botetourt County.

A company official admits they built a 198 foot tower last year without permission.

The meteorological tower is near the intersection of Dagger Springs Road and Gala Loop – about five miles off the road. The tower is collecting data on wind direction, speed and pressure. BP says it could lead to a future wind farm in Botetourt County.

It was erected in April 2009 but BP never got permits. The county didn’t know about the tower until last month. On Monday, BP and the property owner, Jerry Fraley, went before the planning commission to correct the mistake.

BP representative Mike McCoy told the planning commission he didn’t think they needed a permit since the tower would only be up for 3 to 5 years.

But some people in the audience didn’t buy it. They believe BP purposely went behind the county’s back to put up this tower. An accusation the company denies.

“It was my fault personally so things have been said implying otherwise and that’s just not accurate,” says BP Wind Energy representative Michael McCoy.

One man told the commission the oil company broke the rules and should be forced to take the tower down.

“This already constitutes a breach of trust and Botetourt County has no business going any further with this,” says Bill Van Velzer, a county resident.

After a discussion, Botetourt’s planning commission approved the special permit. They said the MET tower didn’t impact anyone.

However, they ordered the tower to be taken down on or before April 2012. Also BP must pay double the building permit fee as a penalty for the mistake.

BP’s representative says it’s too early to know about wind farm possibilities in Botetourt County. But McCoy says the data they’ve received so far shows the area could sustain a wind farm.

BP has plans to build wind turbines in Tazewell and Wise County.