Hearings set for solar projects
Published 8:00 am Thursday, March 23, 2023
The Lunenburg County Planning Commission will hold public hearings on several proposed solar facility projects that could net the county millions.
These hearings, set for Thursday, April 6, at 6 p.m., determine if the request is in compliance with the Lunenburg-Kenbridge-Victoria Comprehensive Plan.
Palladium Energy, LLC, a Florida-based renewable energy development and investment company, has submitted a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) application to the county proposing to construct a 60-megawatt facility.
According to the developer’s CUP application, the project, known as Wheelhouse Solar, will produce enough electricity to power about 15,000 homes.
Application documents state that the facility will be located on approximately 676 acres between Fowlkes Road and Couches Creek Road in the Meherrin River District of the county located to the West/Northwest of the Town of Victoria.
Of these 676 acres, approximately 397 acres will be inside the fence line.
Palladium Energy’s CUP states that there are approximately ten adjoining single-family homes on individual parcels, one of which is owned and inhabited by a project landowner.
According to the developer, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) was used to assess water quality in bodies closest to the project Site.
The closest waterway, Couches Creek, which runs approximately 240 feet south of the Project Site, was found to be impaired by benthic macroinvertebrates and excessive E. coli, currently believed to be from animal waste.
According to Palladium officials, the company has partnered with Renewable Energy Services, LLC (RES) to develop Wheelhouse Solar jointly.
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT RES?
RES is a family-owned-and-operated utility-scale solar developer based in Pittsboro, North Carolina.
The properties that Palladium is leasing for the solar facility are primarily used to grow timber, with most of the acreage being clear cut in the last five years.
According to the CUP application, Palladium says that the Solar Revenue Share will produce $1,400 per megawatt per year, increasing by 10% every five years, generating over $5 million for Lunenburg over the 40-year lifespan of the project.
A second hearing will be held for the Dominion Energy Virginia (Dominion) project, Laurel Branch Solar.
Dominion proposes developing a commercial solar energy project on private land encompassing approximately 1,969 acres.
According to county documents, the project will be located along Sneads Store and Laurel Branch Roads and is predominantly rural undeveloped and agricultural or timber production land located southwest of Kenbridge.
Dominion is also seeking a CUP for a Switchyard as part of the Laurel Branch Solar project.
Dominion officials said the proposed Switchyard would be an integral component of the proposed Laurel Branch Solar Project and serve as critical infrastructure within Dominion’s network.
“The Solar Project’s Substation will serve to step up lower-voltage from the
Solar Project to a higher-voltage transmission level and transfer that generated power to the Switchyard,” the CUP notes.
According to documents, the Switchyard taps into the transmission line via a “switch,” allowing Dominion to transfer the energy from the Solar Project’s Substation to the area’s existing transmission system.
The proposed Switchyard will be located within and as part of the proposed Laurel Branch Solar Facility.