Solar developers negotiate agreement

Published 7:55 pm Wednesday, October 27, 2021

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Apex Clean Energy of Charlottesville and SolUnesco of Reston, the developers of a 130 MW facility destined for Lunenburg, are waiting and negotiating with county officials in an effort to have their Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for Red Brick Solar approved.

At the Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors (BOS) Sept. 21 meeting, the Board voted to remove from the table any further consideration of the Red Brick solar application to allow further discussion of a siting agreement with Red Brick solar.

“At this time, it’s still under review by the county attorney,” Director of Planning and Economic Development Taylor Newton said in an email.

The intent of the siting agreement legislation is to give the local government the opportunity to address certain community needs and allow the solar project developer to help address those needs outside of any taxes or other fees paid by such project.

The siting agreement may include terms and conditions including mitigation of any impacts of such solar facility; financial compensation to address the locality’s capital needs as set out in the locality’s capital improvement plan, its current fiscal budget or its fiscal funds balance policy; or assistance with deploying broadband in the locality.

According to Public Engagement Manager Patrick Chilton, developers of Red Brick have been negotiating with the county for 14 months over additional financial benefits the county would like.

“Presently, Red Brick Solar is offering to pay Lunenburg County an additional $1.7 million in local real estate taxes and $12 million in revenue share and cost savings over the project’s anticipated 40-year life,” Chilton said. “Lunenburg County understandably wants to maximize the financial benefit they will see from this, and we are doing our best to meet their requests while ensuring that this project is still economically viable.”

Chilton said his company anticipates any delays in approving the CUP to be resolved soon and hopes to hear a decision by at least the November BOS meeting.

Red Brick officials proposed to construct and operate the utility-scale solar facility located on 21 individual parcels of property.

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