FLOYD, Va. (WFXR News) - Certain residents in Floyd County could have the opportunity to harness wind energy with the help of one university.
The Office for the Advancement of Sustainable Energy at James Madison University has been holding informational sessions on wind energy grant opportunities in Floyd, VA. Floyd has been considered as prime spot for wind energy because of its elevation.
Billy Weitzenfeld, executive director of the Association of Energy Conservation Professionals, is a huge proponent for renewable energy. He has overseen the grant meetings and workshops.
"The basic idea of the program is to provide potential grants, and/or loans, to people in the county who are interested in wind energy" Weitzenfeld said. "Specifically people who have an agricultural entity or farm or people who have a small business."
These workshops were designed to assist farmers and small business owners in understanding if wind energy is an economically viable option. If it is, then the program works to aid these individuals as they prepare for the Rural Energy of America Program (REAP) grant. The REAP grant is $30,000 and the money will go towards helping these individuals as they set up their turbines.
In previous years, Floyd has been under consideration for a wind farm, in which turbines would be built upon the ridges. However, due to push back, the project never came to light. Opponents of the turbines were concerned with their size — the height would impact birds and the turbines themselves would be an eye sore.
"These turbines won't be anyone's viewshed," Weitzenfeld said. "You might be able to see them. I hope you see them. I hope anyone can see them because I believe they are beautiful."
These smaller turbines are shorter, as high as 100 feet, and there have not been any reports of birds falling from these particular turbines. Weitzenfeld stresses that these turbines are for individual businesses and not a large-scale operation.
"This is not a utility-scale wind farm. These are individual turbines, or maybe a couple of turbines, on private land."
Weitzenfeld says a few farmers and small business owners have applied and are currently working with James Madison University. He's hopeful that more individuals will apply as Floyd, VA becomes more environmentally conscience.
"Renewable energy is important in this time. The more we know about it, the more we understand it, then more systems go up. The better off we are."