May 8, 2020

Public hearing set for Monday on wind farm revision in Botetourt

By Alicia Petska | The Roanoke Times | May 7, 2020 |

A bid to raise the height allowed for a wind turbine farm will be the subject of a public hearing Monday with the Botetourt County Planning Commission.

The meeting will observe social distancing and will offer opportunities to call in to participate.

The commissioners are set to consider an ordinance and permit amendment that would allow Charlottesville-based Apex Clean Energy to move ahead with a wind farm powered by turbines of up to 680 feet tall.

The wind farm, slated to be built along two ridge lines of North Mountain, originally was approved in 2016 with plans calling for up to 25 turbines of a maximum height of 550 feet.

Technology advances since then would allow the project to meet its energy production goals with fewer but taller turbines, Apex said.

The turbines in the revamped plans could be shorter than 680 feet depending on the final number used, a spokeswoman said earlier this year.

If the measure is approved by local leaders, it will go through new rounds of review with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Federal Aviation Administration.

This would be Virginia’s first on-shore commercial wind farm. Apex aims to produce about 75 megawatts of electricity that would be purchased by Dominion Energy as part of that company’s renewable energy initiatives.

Earlier this year, an online survey of county residents drew 95 responses, with public opinion split on whether Botetourt County should embrace wind energy development projects and whether current oversight was adequate.

The survey didn’t pose questions about Apex’s project specifically.

The upcoming public hearings will be part of a meeting starting at 6 p.m. Monday at the Virginia Greenfield Education and Training Center, 57 S. Center Drive, in Daleville.

The planning commission will hold the meeting remotely. Those who would like to listen or to speak will be able to call in by dialing 300-9110 and entering code 875778#.

An automated operator will answer and provide directions for commenting. The line will begin queuing callers at 5:55 p.m. The three-minute time limit on individual speakers will remain in effect.

Written comments can be sent in advance of the meeting to the planning commission, board of supervisors and county administration offices.

Those who attend in person at the Greenfield Education and Training Center will be asked to comply with social distancing. Precautions will include spaced seating and limited person-to-person contact. Reduced county staff will be present.

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