The Appalachian School of Law and Professor Buzz Belleville were recently awarded a $95,000 grant from Dominion Virginia Power to examine the barriers to the development of onshore wind energy in Virginia. Despite the fact that (a) Virginia has had a renewable energy goal for several years, and (b) there is sufficient wind capacity in several locations along the Appalachian highlands in Virginia, the state has no active commercial wind sites.
Prolonged and contentious battles in Highland County and Roanoke County have resulted in a couple approved Virginia sites (with fairly restrictive conditions), though neither has yet come on line. Other proposed wind projects, such as one on East River Mountain in Tazewell County, have been thwarted largely by local opposition. Reported proposals in other Virginia counties face an uncertain future, while other states along the Appalachian chain such as Pennsylvania and West Virginia are growing their wind energy base.
The grant from Dominion Virginia Power charges ASL’s Natural Resource Law Center with cataloging and analyzing the legal, regulatory, policy and public opinion opposition to onshore wind energy development in Virginia. The project will explore the bases for local opposition, the local and state incentives and disincentives for wind energy development, the barriers inherent in Virginia’s permitting and siting process, and the differences between Virginia and similarly situated states where wind energy development is proceeding.
Professor Belleville is ASL’s specialist in energy law and policy, climate change law, and renewable energy. He has presented on the “Appalachian Wind Wars” on several occasions. He will engage ASL students to assist him in the project, and he emphasizes that this project is not intended to be one advocating either for or against wind energy development. Rather, he expects that the project will result in a resource both for developers and local communities as they consider future proposals for onshore wind energy development in Virginia.
– Submitted by Tonya Moore, Secretary to Career Services and Development
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