EAGLE ROCK – All who responded to The Fincastle Herald’s question on support of the Rocky Forge wind farm were a resounding no. Readers mostly questioned the environmental and scenic impact the project will have, while others expressed skepticism of the amount of electricity the farm will produce.
The project, which received final DEQ approval recently, will consist of 22 wind turbines standing about 680 feet tall, about the size of a 50-story building, and could generate enough electricity to power 21,000 homes during peak capacity. Rocky Forge would be the first ridgeline wind farm in Virginia.
Apex Clean Energy said construction could start as early as this winter and be completed by late 2021.
Stephanie S. Muse wrote, the project is “going to ruin some of the most beautiful landscape and wildlife habitat.”
Jen Wooldridge agreed, writing about how scenic Eagle Rock is, “The Eagle Rock area has some of the most beautiful lands in Virginia.”
Candace Poling was a bit blunter, saying the project will be an “eyesore,” adding it could be harmful to wildlife.
Visitors to the area will no longer be awed by the mountains, wrote Jonathan Murray.
Carol Bertholf Guessford calls the project a “foolish idea…” She wonders where the gigantic blades will be disposed of once they are replaced, claiming they could end up in landfills.
Among Melissa Hundley’s concerns are the insects and animals of the forest. “The songbirds, raptors and bats will be slaughtered,” she wrote, adding worries of a “massive kill-off of bugs…”
Hundley continues, “I am very concerned about being flooded out downstream in the future because we are in a mountain [hollow] below and the loss of our pristine trout stream being ruined by the runoff.”
Wooldridge and Muse wrote the project could adversely impact property values in the Eagle Rock area.
Others questioned if the project can generate the amount the public is being told. Dale Brown wrote, “It is not a cost-effective project. It will never generate enough income to pay the cost,” he wrote, adding the project will likely depend on federal grants.
Without citing a source, Bonnie Brady estimates on average 100 MW nameplate projects translate into 38 MW capacity yearly. “And in the summer when it is needed most, on the East Coast, the wind blows less,” she wrote.
Also, without citing a source, a reader wrote wind in not a valid renewable energy source “and never will be.” John M. Slusser II continued the project is “mind boggling and [an] unbelievable waste and destruction.”
Apex provided estimates that the project could bring upwards of $25 million in state and county taxes during the life of the project. Murray asked this question to the Board of Supervisors: “Botetourt County wants more money for a new school? Fine. But is this the best that the BOS could come up with?”
Fourteen readers responded to the question: “The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has approved a permit to allow 22 wind turbines standing 680 feet – about the size of a 50-story building – to be built near the Eagle Rock community, work could begin this winter. The facility could generate enough power to power 21,000 homes. After being constructed the project could employ seven full-time workers. Is this a project you approve of and why or why not?”