CCE VA: Botetourt wind farm should be approved

January 21, 2020

Anyone paying attention can see that Virginia’s energy future is renewable. Barely a week goes by without the announcement of a new solar project or a new clean energy policy goal by both the private sector and public entities alike. More clean energy means cleaner air, greater energy independence, and more jobs. Rocky Forge Wind, being developed in Botetourt County as the Commonwealth’s first onshore wind farm, represents an important next step in Virginia’s energy transition.

Virginians support such an all-of-the-above energy future. Our organization, Conservatives for Clean Energy, conducts regular surveys of voter sentiment on energy issues, and their views are clear. Voters of both parties support increasing access to wind and solar power by wide margins, and these same voters say they are more likely to support political candidates who support renewable energy.

While much of the renewable energy across the state has focused on solar power or, more recently, offshore wind, Southwest Virginia can take the lead in onshore wind.

Rocky Forge is ideally suited to be the Commonwealth’s first wind farm. Located on a remote tract of land in northern Botetourt County, the project site has a strong wind resource and is far from occupied homes.

The project’s construction will support more than 250 temporary jobs, and there will be around 7 full-time permanent jobs. The project will generate enough power for up to 21,000 homes and provide a recurring stream of local revenue for county schools and essential government services, totaling in the tens of millions over the life of the project.

In development for some time, Rocky Forge Wind is close to becoming a reality. The project signed a Power Purchase Agreement with Dominion Energy and the Commonwealth of Virginia earlier this year, and the developer is in the process of updating its permits to incorporate the latest and greatest wind turbine technology.

The updated project plans will allow Rocky Forge to generate the same amount of power with fewer turbines, while providing the same amount of tax revenue to the county. Adjusting plans to accommodate the best available technology is the sort of thing any responsible business would do, and these adjustments will assure Rocky Forge creates the most possible value for Botetourt County and the Commonwealth.

When first permitted in 2015, Rocky Forge Wind was approved unanimously by the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors. As an organization representing the conservative case for clean energy, we hope the project receives the same amount of support going forward, and we look forward to seeing this project become a reality.