Appalachian Power Co. is looking to buy wind energy, and the developer of a proposed wind farm in Botetourt County wants to sell it.
But it remains unclear if Apex Clean Energy has submitted a proposal to Appalachian, which earlier this year sought bids for up to 150 megawatts of wind power to be obtained through purchase agreements that would last for 20 years.
Friday was the deadline for proposals from wind energy companies.
Appalachian spokesman John Shepelwich said the utility received fewer than 24 bids. Shepelwich declined to provide an exact number or release the names of the companies, saying that information cannot be disclosed until a contract is signed.
Likewise, an official with Apex declined to say if the Charlottesville-based company has submitted a proposal.
In January, the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors approved a special exception permit that will allow Apex to build up to 25 giant turbines on top on North Mountain in what could be the first commercial wind farm in Virginia.
Apex, which still must receive state and federal approval, has said it hopes to begin construction by the end of this year. The company does not yet have an agreement with a utility or electric cooperative that would purchase electricity generated by the turbines.
The 80-megawatt wind farm would use an existing Dominion Virginia Power utility line that crosses the North Mountain site to transfer the electricity onto the grid, where it would be available for purchase by a variety of customers.
In announcing its growing interest in wind power, Appalachian said in January that it wanted to acquire up to 150 megawatts, either by buying one or more wind farms or purchasing the electricity they produce. Apex, which currently has six wind farms operating in three states, has sold other turbine projects that it developed.
Apex spokesman Kevin Chandler said Tuesday that the company is working on an application to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, which will examine the project’s impact on surrounding natural resources before deciding whether to issue it a permit.
The renewable energy company is also awaiting a determination from the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA has said the turbines – which would stand nearly as high as the 555-foot-tall Washington Monument – are a presumed hazard to air navigation. However, the federal agency has agreed to conduct a more detailed study at Apex’s request.
Appalachian, which is seeking to expand an energy portfolio that remains heavily dependent on coal-fired power plants, is pleased with the wind energy bids it has received, Shepelwich said. Wind energy purchased outside the state currently accounts for about 3.5 percent of the power used by Appalachian’s Virginia customers.
A decision is expected in the coming months. “We’re excited to see how the proposals shake out,” Shepelwich said.
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