Permit process for wind energy gets breezier in Virginia

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The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has approved the state’s first permit regulation for renewable energy projects. Its action follows legislation from the 2009 General Assembly that transferred the permitting authority from the State Corporation Commission to the DEQ.

“This action creates a clear path for developing wind energy in Virginia,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a statement Tuesday. “Wind energy causes no pollution. In addition, developing and expanding our renewable energy industries will boost Virginia’s economy and create good jobs for our citizens.”

The permit regulation, known as “permit by rule,” applies to wind energy projects with a rated capacity not exceeding 100 megawatts. It spells out what applicants must do to gain permit coverage, while specifying uniform, across-the-board standards for all projects.

For instance, for projects of more than 500 kilowatts and up to 5 megawatts, the permit by rule calls for notifying DEQ in addition to other minimal requirements. Projects of more than 5 megawatts would have to meet other requirements such as facility site planning, public participation and environmental impact analysis.

“This degree of certainty will help developers calculate their compliance costs up front and help them secure financing,” McDonnell said.  “It also assures Virginians that natural resource protection will be required of every project.”

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