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Solar project gets green light

Apex Clean Energy and SolUnesco, the applicants of Red Brick Solar, Lunenburg County’s first solar project, have received the green light from the Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors (BOS) for its project.

On Thursday, June 10, the board voted that the project is in accordance with the county’s comprehensive plan.

Before the BOS vote Chairman Randy Slayton said he would abstain from voting because he had an interest in solar that may conflict.

Vice-Chairman Frank Bacon also said he had an interest in solar but that it would not affect his decision to vote.

In early May, John Puvak of Gentry Locke Attorneys, who represents Red Brick Solar, requested the BOS overrule the Planning Commission’s action and present his client’s contention that the Red Brick Project is in substantial accord with the county’s comprehensive plan.

In April, Red Brick Solar was dealt a defeat by the planning commission when their motion died with a tie vote.

SolUnesco CEO Francis Hodsoll said the project would place a solar photovoltaic power plant across 935 acres situated in north-central Lunenburg County, nearby the courthouse, about four miles southwest of Victoria.

According to Hodsoll, the project would benefit the county and provide a key source of revenue for the county.

“This project does not impact county services,” Hodsoll said. “There will be no new road to be built, and we will utilize the natural layout of the land to reduce the amount of grading that will be done.”

Hodsoll said the project would increase local tax revenues by an additional $205,000 annually throughout the project’s life.

“Right now, that land provides the county $12,000 in taxes annually,” he said. “With this project, it will provide the county $217,000 per year in tax revenue.”

According to Hodsoll, the Red Brick Project would sell its electricity to a third party.

“This means this would have no effect on what people in Lunenburg pay for their electricity either more or less,” he said.

Hodsoll said Red Brick’s plan would be to connect to an existing transmission line that runs from Chase City to Lunenburg.

The facility is expected to generate enough energy to power more than 26,000 homes.

In casting his yes vote that the project was in accordance with the county comprehensive plan, Supervisor Wayne Hoover did say he had concerns about the environment.

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t say I have serious concerns over the environment,” Hoover said.

“I have serious concerns over the buffer zones and, I’m only a yes at this point to see the rest of the story. I’ll be honest with you, I was a little disappointed in the two to three-page environmental report.”

Vice-Chairman Bacon said he saw the project as a significant investment in economic development, while Supervisor Alvester Edmonds said he believed in progress for the county.

Now that the BOS has determined the solar project is substantially in accord with the county’s comprehensive plan, Red Brick will submit a conditional use permit (CUP) application to be reviewed through a public hearing process with the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

Assuming the CUP is approved, the Red Brick Solar project will still need to obtain state-level water and environmental permits from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.