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County studies wind energy rules  

Credit:  By Carol Vaughn, Staff Writer, www.delmarvanow.com 1 December 2010 ~~

ACCOMAC –Several wind energy companies have contacted Accomack County’s planning department about the possibility of putting up wind turbines, but none so far have submitted applications for a required conditional-use permit to build the facilities.

Current zoning regulations permit turbines only in the agricultural district.

Retired engineer Alan Silverman of Onancock warned the Accomack County Board of Supervisors of economic, legal and aesthetic issues associated with large-scale wind power in a presentation he gave at the November board meeting.

“I am neutral … What I am is I am opposed to being stuck with the bill,” Silverman said.

County officials are in the process of considering provisions to also allow utility scale wind energy systems with a conditional-use permit in the business and industrial zoning districts, Planning Director Jim McGowan said.

Conditional-use permits must be approved by the Board of Supervisors and require notification of adjacent landowners and a public hearing.

Silverman recommended the county consider appointing a committee to develop specific recommendations about managing risks associated with wind energy facilities in the county.

“When it’s time to get serious, set up a proper committee to weigh these issues and make specific recommendations for CUPs (and the) management of risks,” Silverman said, adding that the time to get serious is before a proposal arrives.

Among issues Silverman said the committee should consider are whether the county ought to require a renewable operating permit, which would give the locality an annual fee and keep the operator accountable; what to do about abandoned turbines in the future; stormwater runoff concerns; security concerns due to potential vandalism or terrorism; the hazard to birds; and noise, shadow and glint effects and possible electronic inference from 500-foot tall turbines, which also are lighted at night.

“These are very large machines and they will have significant visual impact wherever they are sited, for decades,” Silverman said in his report submitted to the planning commission in June.

Among factors driving wind energy facility development here is Virginia’s commitment to produce 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025, Silverman said, adding that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality in June published a permit-by-rule regulation covering smaller renewable energy projects, including wind energy, that are under 100 megawatts in size. One of the regulation’s 14 requirements is that applicants for such projects certify compliance with all applicable local land-use ordinances.

Source:  By Carol Vaughn, Staff Writer, www.delmarvanow.com 1 December 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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