- Associated Press - Monday, May 9, 2016

FINCASTLE, Va. (AP) - An energy developer of a proposed Botetourt County wind farm has come up with steps to lessen the farm’s potential harm to natural resources, including a plan to avoid bat deaths.

Apex Clean Energy filed a permit application last week with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, seeking permission to build a 25-turbine wind farm atop North Mountain to convert wind to electricity, The Roanoke Times reported (http://bit.ly/24DMk1x).

Apex said it would turn the turbines off from dusk to dawn every year between May 15 and Nov. 15, when bats are foraging for food. But they could remain on when the wind is blowing faster that 15 mph or when the temperature dips below 38 degrees, conditions that keep the bats grounded.

Opponents see the turbines as threats to the mountain’s wildlife and its habitat.

Apex officials said they are confident they can extract green energy from nature without harm.

“There are proven steps we can take to build and operate projects in an environmentally responsible manner,” company spokesman Kevin Chandler wrote in an email.

A monthlong public comment period on Apex’s application began Thursday. After that, DEQ will have 90 days to decide whether to grant Apex the permit it needs to have the turbines at Rocky Forge Wind spinning by late next year.

There will also be a public meeting to take comments on May 25 at the Eagle Rock Library.

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Information from: The Roanoke Times, http://www.roanoke.com

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