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Botetourt wind farm up in the air after key permit revoked

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 11:19 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The Rocky Forge wind farm – a 15-turbine project slated for the top of North Mountain in Botetourt County – is on an indefinite hold. The news comes after Botetourt County invalidated a key permit for the wind farm this month.

Rocky Forge’s special exception permit was originally set to expire in May 2021. The General Assembly passed a law extending certain permits up to two years due to the pandemic.

Apex Energy, the company behind Rocky Forge, says that law applies.

But an opponent group - Virginians for Responsible Energy - asked the county to take a closer look.

“The county zoning administrator determined earlier this month that that law does not apply to Apex’s SEP, and therefore the SEP has expired,” said a member of county staff during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

The permit required Apex to get a site plan approved before the May 2021 deadline. In a release Tuesday, the County claimed a plan “was submitted in March and was rejected both by the Virginia Department of Transportation and county staff, with over 100 comments and deficiencies.”

“This is not a case of we filed in March and they ran out of time. We’ve been working with them. I think our first conversation about the site plan was in October,” said Apex Energy’s Senior VP of Development Karlis Povisils.

Povisils says Botetourt has made a mistake.

“It’s not too late for the county to come to its senses, and recognize that they erred in saying that that COVID statute does not apply to Rocky Forge. We feel it clearly does,” he said.

Apex will have 30 days to appeal the county’s decision, and Povisilis says the company is prepared to do whatever it takes to get back on track.

“We’ll be exhausting every one of our options,” he said.

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