The State Corporation Commission has cleared the way for Virginia's first wind farm. The SCC has granted conditional approval for the $60 million project on the remote ridges of Highland County.
Highland New Wind Development plans to put 19 massive wind turbines, each more than 400 feet tall, on a ridge near the West Virginia border.
The Commission said the company must spend up to $150,000 a year to monitor and mitigate harm to birds and bats that could be caused by the whirling turbine blades.
Environmentalists have been contending that many endangered species would be threatened by the project, and an SCC hearing examiner concluded
that the turbines a "significant risk" to bats and "a lesser risk" to birds.
The monitoring program will be implemented by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Highland New Wind Development spokesman Frank Maisano said the company supports the efforts to protect birds and bats, but had
reservations about the requirement that they continue over the life of the project because of the possible expense.