By Matt de Simone
Members of Apex Clean Energy addressed some of the public comments and questions about the Rocky Forge Wind Project at the most recent Board of Supervisors meeting in Daleville last month.
Charlie Johnson, Senior Development Manager for Apex Clean Energy, introduced other members of the project as they presented their plans for constructing wind turbines northeast of Eagle Rock.
In February, Buchanan District Supervisor Amy White asked that Johnson return to present a walkthrough of the project, which Johnson presented to the board.
Johnson explained specific details pertaining to the turbines and the energy they will generate. Apex has chosen 14 General Electric turbines that stand at 612 feet.
Despite a group of citizens who have expressed concerns about the project prior to the meeting and in a public hearing before Johnson’s presentation, Johnson stated that “the amount of public support for this project has been astronomical” in terms of the response to attributes related to the project. He was excited about the number of people that have shown up for the permit hearings.
Johnson explained that the environmental benefits speak for themselves, given that the turbines will produce energy without burning fuel. The project is projected to power to 21,000 homes. The first year of the project is projected to pay over $1 million in local tax revenue. He clarified that the tax cost is based on the capital cost of the project, not the revenue or production. If the project is sitting on the mountain, the county will receive tax revenue.
Regarding the questions posed in the hearing about their current work on the project, Johnson explained that they’ve issued a commencement of construction to the start tree-clearing that meets the Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) requirements. The limited work currently underway is permitted by the state.
The project has full notice to proceed in June with commercial operations to commence in October 2022, at the latest. Johnson explained that so many things within the industry that come into place at the last minute, unfortunately, is the toughest part of Johnson’s job.
White asked Johnson if the delay in the project is worrisome. Johnson said that while the timeframe is rather compressed to begin operation based on the approval of site plans by a specific date (May 2021), Apex remains committed to those requirements.
For more information on the wind project, visit www.rockyforgewind.com.