In Virginia, the regulatory process for gaining approval for the construction of a wind facility depends on the size of the project with respect to its electrical generation capacity. For renewable energy projects, the regulatory process is defined in the Code of Virginia 9VAC15.40. (http://law.lis.virginia.gov/admincode/title9/agency15/chapter40/)
For facilities of 500 KW or less no notification or certification to the Department of Environment Quality (DEQ) is required.
For facilities greater than 500 KW and not greater than 5 MW, the owner or operator must notify the DEQ and submit a certification by the governing body of the locality or localities wherein the project will be located that the project complies with all applicable land use ordinances and applicable local government requirements
Facilities that a larger than 5 MW and not exceeding 100 MW are defined as “small renewable energy projects”, and the approval is made via “Permit by Rule” (PBR) as defined in 9VAC15.40 code as referenced above. This is a very simplified, fast-track, type of approval, with fewer “hurdles” to approval than the standard State Corporation Commission (SCC) rules for conventional power generation facilities. The guidance documents provided by the DEQ are:
For facilities greater than 100 MW, the standard regulatory process enforced by the SCC is in place.
For facilities greater than 500 KW, in addition to state regulations, the FAA must be notified of the proposed location and height of the wind turbines since they must make sure that they do not interfere with radar, flight paths, etc. If they are of sufficient height, the FAA may require appropriate warning lights on the towers.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must also be consulted to make sure that there is compliance with several federal guidelines and laws:
If wetlands are nearby, the US Army Corps of Engineers must be consulted to make sure there will be no impact, or the impact is minimized.