November 17, 2010

Virginia speeds up permits for wind-energy projects

By Julian Walker, The Virginian-Pilot, 17 November 2010

People seeking a state permit to develop small wind-energy projects in Virginia may receive a quicker answer from the Department of Environmental Quality, thanks to new authority given to the agency.

But that doesn’t mean major wind projects, whether offshore or on land, will sprout in Virginia any faster than they otherwise would.

The “permit by rule” that DEQ can grant applies to wind projects that don’t exceed 100 megawatts of capacity – enough to power a moderate-size industrial facility.

The new process means that applicants who meet the permit requirements, including local government approval for land use, will receive a response within 90 days. In the past, that process could take as long as a year. The permit process explains in detail what applicants must do and sets uniform standards for projects.

“This action creates a clear path for developing wind energy in Virginia,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said Tuesday. “This degree of certainty will help developers calculate their costs up front and help them secure financing.”

Although that process has been streamlined, establishing a wind-energy project in Virginia remains a time-consuming exercise because of other permits and approvals required.

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