Having submitted two other comments, the Town Hall review team may be irritated to have a third one from me. But, I think it is necessary to raise an issue that I have not seen in other submissions. And that issue is the handling of the public comment requirement in the “small” wind PBR. Below is an excerpt of a comment I submitted following the public comment meeting for the Rocky Forge Wind project:
The failure of Apex to comply with Code of Virginia § 10.1-1197.6 is perhaps the most egregious of the two violations described in this comment. That is because it is the simpler of the two. All it requires is common courtesy and respect for individuals, qualities that should be common business practice. The details of this violation are described below.
A friend of mine who attended the public comment meeting at the Fincastle Community Center on June 15, 2022 attempted to have a conversation with some of the Apex employees who were in attendance. He was not permitted to do so by Robert Loftin, an attorney for Apex. My friend described what happened:
Jeff and all, before you got there, I talked with the two of the Apex people sitting at the table and asked them a few questions. Loftin came over and told me I could not talk to them, that time was a public comment time and I could submit written or oral comments. He did not allow me to have a conversation with Apex.
So, this is the method that Apex uses to facilitate communication, and to establish a dialogue between the owner or operator and persons who may be affected by the project. A more blatant disregard for the regulation could not be imagined. I also attempted to ask questions of Karlis Povisils (Apex Senior Vice President of Development) who was at the meeting and was not busy with any other persons, but he refused to answer any of my questions.
I strongly urge the Town Hall review team to carefully review all of the comments in full (and not just the summaries provided by Apex) that were submitted by the public, and the responses that were, or were not, made by Apex to the comments. The documents of interest are identified as Attachment 13, with various suffixes. In doing the review you will see the many significant questions and comments about the many different impacts that Rocky Forge would have. If, after that review you can honestly say that the PBR for “small” wind projects does not need to be repealed, or that significant changes do not need to be made, then there is no hope for the environment or the citizens of Virginia.
May 29, 2023