easuring the Performance of Wind Energy Projects
Assuring the Success of theCommonwealth EnergyPolicy
The General Assembly has found thatenergy is essential to the health, safety,welfare and economy of theCommonwealth and that state governmentshould facilitate the availability anddelivery of reliable and adequate suppliesof energy to industrial, commercial, andresidential users at reasonable costs. TheGeneral Assembly has also enumeratedenergy objectives (§ 67-101), set forth aCommonwealth Energy Policy (§ 67-102),and directed development of a non-regulatory Virginia Energy Plan (§ 67-201). Among the objectives addressed bythe Code is promotion of alternativeenergy sources, which, compared totraditional energy resources, may be lesspolluting of the Commonwealth's air andwaters. Alternative energy includeselectricity generated through the use of wind turbines.Although the Commonwealth has noexperience with commercial-scale windenergy projects, the General Assembly hassought to promote the development of suchprojects through expedited environmentalpermitting by establishment of a Permit ByRule administered by the Department of Environmental Quality (§ 10.1-1197.6). Inaddition, the General Assembly hasdirected the State Corporation Commissionto approve increased consumer electricityrates for utilities that demonstrateattainment of the Commonwealth'sRenewable Portfolio Standard (§ 56-585.2). Fortunately,the General Assembly has also recognized the need toestablish a procedure for measuring the implementation of the Commonwealth Energy Policy (§ 67-100). It makessense to assure that the desired benefits of energyproduction are obtained, that harm to the public interestsare minimized, and that future revisions of the VirginiaEnergy Plan are informed by experience and data.
This new 61-turbine wind project occupies 12 miles of ridgeline near Elkins, WV. If this 98-megawatt project werein Virginia it would qualify as a "small wind project" andrequire minimal review despite its large footprint andprobable poor performance. Wind projects in this regionaverage only 13% of total generation capacity during criticalsummertime peak demand periods. (PJM, 2010. Rules andProcedures for Determination of Generating Capacity,http://pjm.com/~/media/documents/manuals/m21.ashx)