Solar project application withdrawn

Published 11:08 am Thursday, July 23, 2020

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The applicant of the Red Brick LLC solar project, which would place a solar photovoltaic power plant across 935 acres in Lunenburg County, withdrew its request over the weekend.

Providing this update Tuesday, July 21, was Glenn T. Millican Jr., who handles planning and economic development activities for Lunenburg County.

The project was a joint venture between Apex Energy and SolUnesco.

“They requested a deferral at the 11th hour, and the chairman of the (Lunenburg County) Planning Commission did not — and really could not — give a deferral without the other commission members, and so they decided to withdraw,” Millican said.

He said that as of Tuesday morning, he knew little about the withdrawal except that a letter had been received by the county attorney to withdraw, which the attorney forwarded to him, and a representative of the applicant would be providing a verbal statement of withdrawal Tuesday night at the Planning Commission meeting.

“I think they wanted to address issues that I had raised in the staff report about the project,” Millican said. “This particular hearing is what is called a 2232 hearing, which is sort of an acronym for Section 15.2-2232 of the Code of Virginia that requires a hearing for this type of installation prior to consideration of a conditional use permit. There are certain large-scale-specific infrastructure or developments that require this type of hearing.”

Millican said the applicant wanted to defer the public hearing.

“The public hearing for 2232 will either allow a project to go forward to the public hearing for the conditional use permit, or it will prohibit going forward,” he said.

He noted that if an applicant does not have a vote by a planning commission that the request is substantially in accord with the comprehensive plan of the locality, then the project does not move forward.

“And my recommendation was that it not go forward from what had been proposed,” he said.

He explained that this particular process is really two steps.

“They’re interlocked with each other,” he said. “If you withdraw your conditional use application, by doing that you also withdraw the 2232 hearing.”

Millican said he feels sure the applicant will revise their application, but emphasized he does not know what their plans are at this point.

“At the present time the details are just not available from the applicant as to what’s forthcoming,” he said. “And we’re not trying to be evasive. It was late in the game when they decided to withdraw, and we just don’t have all of the information just yet.”

He shared details about the 130 MWAC solar photovoltaic power plant project based on the present application.

It was to be placed about a mile southwest of Lunenburg County Courthouse on 2,500 acres of land, taking up approximately 900 acres of that land. The site is located between Route 40 and Route 49, lacking a 911 address at this time because it is currently undeveloped timberland.

“It is a power-generating facility that goes into the grid,” Millican said, explaining the solar project’s intended use. “There’s no dedicated in-user. They’re just producing power for sale.”

He said the applicant wanted the power plant to be online by somewhere around 2022.

“A lot of solar companies are choosing southside Virginia because southside, I would say from Danville to Greensville County, has the most days of sunlight of any location in the state,” he said, explaining why Lunenburg was the chosen site for this project.

“It’s a very involved project, both with state regulations, with environmental quality, with county plans — this is not your run-of-the-mill conditional use permit by any stretch of the imagination,” he said.