May 21, 2022

Public comments again sought on Botetourt County wind farm

Laurence Hammack | The Roanoke Times |

The developers of a long-delayed wind farm in Botetourt County will again take public comments as they seek to start construction on a project first proposed in 2015.

Apex Clean Energy has scheduled a public hearing and information session for June 15 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Fincastle Community Center, according to a notice posted to its website.

Anyone interested in submitting their input on the proposed Rocky Forge Wind – which would be the first on-shore wind farm in Virginia – can also make written comments during a 30-day period beginning May 26.

Apex first received approval in 2017 from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for building wind turbines about twice as tall as the Wells Fargo tower in downtown Roanoke. The facility would be located on top of North Mountain, in a remote section of northern Botetourt County.

After making a change in the turbine’s number and height, the Charlottesville company obtained an amended permit from the state last year.

But opponents – who say the turbines will mar the scenic landscape, create harmful low-frequency noise, devalue their property and cause environmental damage – sued DEQ in Botetourt County Circuit Court, claiming the agency cut corners in approving the permit.

Judge Joel Branscom ruled in March that DEQ made procedural errors that could be corrected by holding a second review. That apparently will involve another state public hearing, following Apex’s latest round of information gathering.

The wind farm has endured a number of setbacks, including difficulties in finding a buyer for the electricity it will produce.

In October 2019, then-Gov. Ralph Northam announced that Dominion Energy would purchase the power and sell it to Virginia to help the state meet a goal of getting at least 30% of the electricity consumed by the commonwealth’s agencies and executive branch from renewable sources by late 2022.

But that contract expired late last year. Apex has said it is confident that it will find a new buyer. Efforts to reach company officials Friday were unsuccessful.

The most recent plan, which has changed repeatedly over the years, calls for 13 turbines, each one 612 feet tall. Apex has said it hopes to have the wind farm in operation by late 2023.

For more information about how to submit public comments, go to

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