Board gives solar projects red light

Published 8:00 am Friday, July 21, 2023

Solar developers looking to find a home in Lunenburg County for their facilities will have to wait a while longer. The Board of Supervisors (BOS) unanimously voted Thursday, July 13 to stop accepting any further conditional use permits.

According to county documents, due to the substantial number of solar facility applications the county has received, the time and expense of reviewing and working on the applications, and the substantial impact which previously permitted CUPs may have on the county, the BOS is requesting that the County Planning Commission and the Solar Committee conduct a study on the impact of solar facilities in the county.

There was no timeline stated as to when the study should be completed; however, documents show that until that time no CUPs will be granted to solar developers.

Once complete the BOS will consider recommendations made by the Planning Commission and the Solar Committee and may amend the County’s Comprehensive Plan, Zoning Ordinance, and/or Solar Facilities Ordinance.

To date, no solar facilities have been constructed in the county. However, Red Brick Solar has already paid out over $1 million in funds to the county since the BOS approved their CUP.

Red Brick is expected to begin construction sometime next year.

In addition, developers Apex Solar and ESA Solar Developers plan to construct and operate a 4-megawatt medium-scale solar facility on Dogwood Lane located just outside of Kenbridge.

Yet another developer, 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 Rd. and Couches Creek Rd. in the Meherrin River District of the county.

Virginia’s solar facilities now generate about 2,667 megawatts, which is enough to power more than 530,000 homes, according to the Virginia Department of Energy.

To date, Virginia has 52 active solar facilities that generate more than 5 megawatts of power.