Virginians for Responsible Energy is a group of concerned citizens from Rockbridge, Botetourt, and Alleghany Counties. We first got together when Apex Clean Energy Holdings was requesting that a Special Exception Permit be granted for the Rocky Forge Wind project by the Botetourt Board of Supervisors. At public meetings, the board heard from Apex representatives and citizens. While many citizens voiced support for the project, others presented information about the adverse environmental impacts of industrial scale wind turbines, as well as the questionable business practices used by Apex Clean Energy and its companies. In spite of the significant issues raised at these meetings, the supervisors granted the Special Exception Permit on January 26, 2016. This permit was granted in spite of the fact that the Botetourt County Comprehensive Plan states:
“Preserving scenic views and vistas is particularly important for Botetourt County. The County’s scenery is critical to the rural character and is one of its most distinguishing features. The Blue Ridge Mountains are a national attraction and derive their popularity from spectacular views. Tourism and nature-based leisure draw on the beauty of the region and have significant economic impact. Furthermore, County residents value the beauty of their natural surroundings on a daily basis.”
Following that statement, a list of key items required to preserving scenic views includes “limit ridgeline development”. Given that the proposed wind farm is located on the top of a mountain with 25 towers, each with a height of 500 feet that will be visible for many miles in several surrounding counties, it is obvious that for Botetourt County, the promise of unknown financial gain for the county far outweighed any stated importance to preserving the natural beauty or protecting the environment of the region.
While many in our group initially believed that industrial wind power is a “green” source of energy, as we did more research into wind power in general, and the proposed Rocky Forge project in particular, there are significant environmental and economic aspects that bring the “greenness” of industrial wind power into question. The goal of our group and this website is to provide information so that individuals, groups, and government officials can make informed decisions about alternative energy projects.