Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Environmental Quality
Department of Environmental Quality
Small Renewable Wind Energy Projects Permit by Rule [9 VAC 15 ‑ 40]
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5/29/23  10:00 pm
Commenter: Jeff Scott

Response to comments submitted by Harrison T. Godfrey

This comment is in response to the submittal by Harrison T. Godfrey, the Managing Director of Advanced Energy United. I am making this response because some of the “benefits” that he claims the PBR produces for Virginia, are, in fact, detriments. Below are several comments in response to some of the statements made by Mr. Godfrey.

  1. Godfrey stated: “First, PBR simplifies the permitting process, making it more efficient and less time-consuming. By establishing clear guidelines and standards, developers can navigate the regulatory landscape with greater ease and certainty.” Virginia already had a framework in place for the regulation of energy projects, and did not need another, which has actually increased the regulatory burden on the DEQ. The PBR removed the State Corporation Commission (SCC) from its role as the agency for approval of energy projects. Why was this done?
  2. Godfrey stated: “Second, the PBR process helps reduce the administrative burden upon state regulators and, thereby, the cost to Virginia taxpayers. PBR does this not by eliminating regulations – indeed small wind projects must still adhere to rigorous standards for noise levels, setback distances, and other environmental factors to receive a permit – but instead by placing that administrative burden on the project developer rather than DEQ staff.” There are at least two reasons why these statements are incorrect. First, as I stated in the previous item, Virginia already had the regulatory mechanism in place for energy projects in the form of the SCC. Now there is another regulatory mechanism, the PBR. If the goal was to reduce cost and burden, then modify the existing requirements, don’t create new ones. And in fact, the PBR complicates the regulatory environment since it is now up to each jurisdiction in Virginia to enact “Wind Ordinances” which will not be uniform around the state. In addition, the burden is now placed on local governments which most likely do not have the expertise for evaluating information submitted by energy developers, and will need to hire, or contract with experts to perform the evaluations. Second, the “rigorous standards” claim is simply not true. The PBR does not, at all, place any restrictions on noise, setbacks, etc. These requirements are completely overlooked by the PBR. Once again, the burden is placed on local governments to enact the necessary regulations, and then spend the time and money to try and determine that the claims made by the project developer are true. And energy developers will not have a uniform code for what is required, but it will vary by jurisdiction.
  3. Godfrey stated: “Fourth – and building upon the prior point – PBR helps the Commonwealth meet its overall clean energy standards.” This may be true, but what is the actual cost to taxpayers and the environment? As I noted in my comments previously submitted, “small” wind projects are actually large industrial projects requiring dozens, if not hundreds, of acres of land. And where in Virginia does the wind blow on land? On mountain ridges that are environmentally, as well as economically, important to Virginia. What irreversible damage will result?

In closing, the PBR for “small” wind projects must be revoked or significantly revised to ensure that the environment and the citizens of Virginia are adequately protected. Making it easier for large, multi-billion corporations to destroy the environment and harm citizens does not meet the requirements of the Virginia Constitution.


Jeff Scott

Lexington, VA


May 29, 2023



CommentID: 217037