Lunenburg County receives more solar funds. Where will it go?

Published 8:00 am Thursday, September 28, 2023

Solar has become a big business in Lunenburg County, and recently, the county has received another substantial payment from a developer. According to Lunenburg Director of Planning and Economic Development Taylor King, the county has received $500,000 from the Wheelhouse Solar Project.

Earlier this year, the county received over $1 million in payments from Red Brick Solar and nearly $30,000 from the Dogwood Lane Solar project. To date, none of the projects have broken ground on construction.

What Lunenburg County funds be used for?

The Dispatch reached out to County Administrator Tracy Gee to inquire as to whether those funds would be used to help with tax reduction, school construction projects, etc.

Back in an April interview, Gee said, “The funds will be purposed as they are received.” This time, she said the second payment from Red Brick has been deposited in Emergency Services Capital for future use.

During budget time this summer, the Board Of Supervisors approved funding each fire department and EMS in the county with an additional $75,000 in funding from solar funds.

“Wheelhouse Solar offers Lunenburg County a unique economic development opportunity, including revenue sharing and other financial compensation to Lunenburg County via a negotiated siting agreement,” said Palladium Energy officials.

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.

According to Palladium Energy, the renewable energy generated by Wheelhouse Solar will be delivered into Dominion Energy’s electrical system as a source of clean, renewable, emission-free electricity for Virginia. Palladium Energy, together with Renewable Energy Services, is developing Wheelhouse Solar on approximately 676 acres in Lunenburg County. Wheelhouse Solar is a 60 MWac utility-scale solar PV facility and, as proposed, will utilize bifacial solar modules mounted to a single-axis tracking racking system, which enables the panels to track the sun’s movement, optimizing energy production.

According to the developer’s CUP application, the project 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.

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

Dogwood Lane Solar. John Puvak of Gentry Locke Attorneys, who represents Red Brick Solar, said developers would invest $16.1 million into the county for the project’s life.

“Red Brick will put up over $2 million before construction even starts,” Puvak said. “This project will have a meaningful impact on the county’s commercial tax base. This project will create $197,000 in additional tax revenues/revenue share in the first year of operations and every year over the project’s life with 10% increases in this amount every five years.”

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.