Botetourt County, VA – May 27, 2021– Rocky Forge Wind, slated to be Virginia’s first onshore wind farm, is still on track to begin operation next year, despite global slowdowns in turbine supply chains due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recognizing development delays caused by COVID-19 across the Commonwealth, the General Assembly passed a bill to extend deadlines for zoning approvals affected by the pandemic. The legislation became effective on March 1, 2021 and extends “any deadline in the exception permit, or in the local zoning that requires the landowner or developer to commence the Project or incur significant expenses related to improvements for the Project within a certain time,” until July 2022. In the case of Rocky Forge, this legislation extends the project’s deadline for receiving site plan approvals into next year.
Rocky Forge Wind received an authorization for its Permit by Rule modification from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality last October. This modification allows the project to construct and operate up to 22 turbines with a height of up to 680 feet. The project is proposing to utilize a maximum of 14 GE 158 turbines. Under the proposed turbine configuration, each turbine has a 5.5 MW capacity and complies with the height requirements specified. The project also received updated Determinations of No Hazard from the Federal Aviation Administration in January 2021.
“We applaud the diligent work of all local, state, and federal agencies over the years to help us get Rocky Forge Wind to this point,” said Charlie Johnson, senior development manager at Apex Clean Energy. “Without a doubt, the pandemic has created some new hurdles we have had to overcome, and we appreciate the Commonwealth’s recognition of these difficult realities as they have sought to ensure that good projects still have the opportunity to succeed to benefit Virginia communities.”
Last month, four recipients were selected to receive funds from the Rocky Forge Community Grant Program. Grantees included the Fincastle Volunteer Fire Department; Appalachian Habitat Association; Eagle Rock Elementary School and Mountain Castles Soil and Water Conservation District. These funds are designed to support organizations and projects related to community development, environment, education, health, and recreation, that benefit Botetourt County and the surrounding area.
Rocky Forge Wind is expected to generate enough energy to power up to 21,000 U.S. homes annually. In addition, over the 30-year lifespan of this project, tens of millions of dollars will be generated in new sources of long-term revenue for Botetourt County, local landowners, and local schools. Botetourt County will receive over $1 million in tax revenue within the first year of operation alone. During construction, over 250 jobs will be created in the region. And, once operational, nearly seven full-time employees will be onsite for operations and maintenance.