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    Grayson seeks input on renewable energy


    August 5, 2022 - BRIAN FUNK, Staff

     

      Seven months after a public hearing about amending the zoning ordinance's language regarding renewable energy, Grayson County is seeking more input from citizens.

      The Grayson County Planning Commission held the hearing in January, after a company submitted an application to place seven wind turbines along ridgelines in locations including Buck Mountain and Whitetop. The turbines would catch the wind and produce power in accord with green energy standards.

      Five of the six speakers at the hearing said they were in favor of the proposed project, though they urged caution, careful consideration and research; a sixth citizen had some stronter reservations.

      Now, the county's Department of Planning and Community Development is reviewing policies and goals in the comprehensive plan, as well as regulations in the zoning ordinance pertaining to wind and solar energy generation facilities.

      "Such facilities include wind turbines located on mountain ridgelines and utility solar farms with solar panels covering several acres, if not hundreds of acres or more," said the county's announcement of the citizen survey.

      The goal of this review is to make sure that the county's policies and regulations meet best practice standards for wind and solar facilities and meet citizens' expectations, "resulting in projects that can be supported by the community," the announcement said.

      To help the county create these policies and regulations, citizens are being asked to complete a four-question survey.

      A link to the survey can be found on the county's website (graysoncountyva.gov) or the Grayson County Government page on Facebook.

      Paper copies of the survey can be obtained in the Grayson County Planning and Community Development Department, Grayson County Administration Office, or the Wythe-Grayson Regional Library.

      The survey is available now through Aug. 29.

      At the January public hearing, Michael Svedman — a project director at REV Renewables, an affiliate of LS Power — addressed the planning commision briefly to say the company was talking to locals to see if they were interested in the wind turbine project.

      He said the process is long and there is no guarantee that a wind farm would locate in Grayson. Such a project takes many steps to complete.

      "A project greater than five megawatts, any large-scale development greater than 20 acres of solar or two or three wind turbines, requires a special use permit process, which requires the company to come before the board," he said of his visit to Grayson officials. The process would also include public meetings, notices in local newspapers and wildlife studies, among other things.

      "We are at the point where we're investigating," Svedman said at the hearing.

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