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The State Corporation Commission (SCC) of Virginia has directed an SCC hearing examiner to hold an additional proceeding to address a post-construction bat and bird mitigation plan for a proposed wind farm in Highland County.

Highland New Wind Development LLC is proposing to build and operate a wind farm consisting of 19 wind turbines along a mountain ridge near the Virginia-West Virginia border. Under the current state law, SCC may approve electric generation projects that advance electric competition, have positive impacts on economic development, and do not threaten the reliability of the electric system. The SCC must also consider environmental impact, the commission says.

Alexander F. Skirpan Jr., SCC's hearing examiner, issued a report on March 1 recommending conditional approval of the project. During its preliminary consideration of the application, the SCC found that the risk to bats and birds falls within the required statutory analysis of the project's environmental impact. Therefore, Skirpan is recommending a post-construction monitoring program be developed jointly by Highland New Wind and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to mitigate such risk.

An evidentiary hearing has been scheduled for July 17 in the SCC's courtroom in Richmond. In addition, the SCC will Web cast the audio portion of the hearing - instructions for connecting to the Web cast can be found at scc.virginia.gov/caseinfo.htm.

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