Rocky Forge Wind Turbines Not a Threat to Aviation


Simulated view of Rocky Forge Wind turbines. Source: Apex Clean Energy

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ruled that 549-foot wind turbines, as tall as the Washington Monument, will not pose a danger to passing aircraft, thus putting Apex Clean Energy one step closer to building Virginia’s first commercial wind farm.

As proposed, the Rocky Forge Wind project would string 25 turbines along a ridge line in Botetourt County, generating enough electricity to power 20,000 homes. Charlottesville-based Apex still must obtain a permit from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, which will review the project for impact on wildlife and its habitat. Also, reports the Roanoke Times, the company is still looking for a utility or other customer to purchase the electricity.

Initially, the FAA had ruled against the turbines, declaring that they would pose a threat to aviation. But further evaluation of each individual turbine found that the Rocky Forge Wind project would pose no adverse effects. The closest airport is Ingalls Field in Hot Springs, 17 miles away.

As a condition of approval, the FAA said the turbines should be equipped with white paint and synchronized red lights to make them more visible to aviators. However, making the turbines more visible to pilots will make them more visible also to Botetourt residents who oppose the project on the grounds that the turbines will be an eyesore.

Apex selected the 7,000-acre site because of its remote location. The closest home in the area is more than a mile away.


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