Pilot Project to Advance Distributed Wind in Virginia
The Virginia Energy Plan of 2014 created a demand for alternative energy sources to meet the goal of producing 25% of Virginia's energy from alternative sources by 2025. One of the most promising sources of alternative energy in Virginia is wind. As a result, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy (DMME) took action to incentivize distributed wind (DW) power by enabling loan assistance with highly favorable terms toward the purchase and installation of distributed wind systems. Our team identified the nine sectors considered most likely to present the strongest potential for development of DW, and landowners within these sectors were invited to apply for assistance and loan consideration through the Distributed Wind Assistance Program (DWAP) that we developed. The program received 12 applications, these were evaluated through a desktop analysis in order to select the four most competitive candidates as determined through a comprehensive scoring evaluation. The strongest applications were recommended to the DMME for state-based loans and these applicants were encouraged to seek additional support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) if eligible. One applicant, Bradford Bay Farms, was able to advance their project at a rapid rate, thus a comprehensive site evaluation was performed including an on-site visit. The outcomes of this effort and lessons learned are described.