Over the span of the next six months, Page County will not be accepting any new wind energy permit applications.
During its meeting Aug. 10, the Page County Board of Supervisors voted 2-1 in favor of extending the existing moratorium on Commercial Wind Energy Conversion System (C-WECS) construction permits by 180 days. The initial moratorium was established by a 2-1 vote of the board March 29.
Supervisor Chuck Morris cast the opposing vote to the original resolution that temporarily prohibited the submission of C-WECS construction permits in Page County. Morris then voted against the extension Tuesday.
"I would like to table this until we get nearer the expiration to see what work we can get done between now and the end (of the moratorium). I wouldn't support an extension at least until we've tried to work out whatever issues are perceived to be needed and be worked on," Morris said.
Prior to the approval of the extension, the moratorium was scheduled to expire Sept. 24. Now, requests for construction permits related to wind energy projects will not be accepted by Page County until at least March 29, 2023.
Supervisor Chairperson Alan Armstrong said there were no changes made to the resolution that established the moratorium other than the dates involved.
Since the passage of the wind ordinance for Page County in 2019, Supervisor Jacob Holmes said several points of concern have surfaced that he feels need to be addressed. Those issues became points of contention as the Invenergy permit application for the Shenandoah Hills Wind Project was reviewed and ultimately approved, by a 2-1 vote, Aug. 3.
With less than 60 days left until the moratorium was set to expire, Holmes said the board did not have the necessary time to address the various problems.
"I have a whole big folder marked up with all the things to kind of go over. There have been several more things added now. I've been sent all kinds of things, other ordinances and things. It's a lot to try to figure out the wording on," Holmes said.
Therefore, Holmes believed the board would be better served to continue researching the matter and then try tackling any changes to the wind ordinance after the first of the year. This would also allow any newly-elected members of the board to have input on those changes.
In the Republican primary held in June, Todd Maher defeated Armstrong in his bid to be re-elected to the board. With no challenger on the ballot from the Democratic Party for the general election in November, Maher is expected to take office Jan. 1, 2023.
"It's going to take a lot of time to get all these issues that came up fixed. We can try to hammer it out real hard, here in the next 60 days, or 50 days, or whatever it is," Holmes said. "If we spend a lot of time trying to work this out in the next 60 days, and then we change it again in January a little more, it seems like, probably, the right thing to do is just to wait until then."
Despite having until March 29 as a result of the extension, Armstrong said the board could still put the next four months to good use by evaluation the concerns and researching how other counties have dealt with those issues.
"If we want to have a work session on that and start, that's perfectly okay," Armstrong said.
"It doesn't have to take clear to March. If there can be the right wording found on some of these issues, then just get that inserted in there," Holmes said.