Solar farm on county agenda

Published 7:07 pm Tuesday, February 19, 2019

By Frederic Lee

Staff writer 

Plans for a 300-acre solar farm in Carrsville is the subject of a public hearing Thursday before the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors. 

The Isle of Wight County Planning Commission recommended approval in January, with conditions pertaining to visual buffers, deconstruction costs and solar panel quality. 

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If approved by the Board of Supervisors, it will be the third solar farm in Isle of Wight County.{mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

residential, agricultural, conservation. The project will have a 55-megawatt energy production capacity and will use about 145,000 solar panels once complete.  

The recommendation came with several conditions, including the creation a bond that’s assigned to “decommissioning” costs — expenses that arise when it comes time to deconstruct the solar farm. The bond will be maintained by SolarGen of Virginia, LLC. 

SolarGen President Carmine Iadarola is the applicant and developer of the project. SolarGen is a subsidiary of AquaSan Network based out of Denver, Colorado. 

Additionally, the Commission voted that the decommissioning bond be reviewed by a third-party engineer. 

Other conditions include buffers surrounding the solar farm, an agreement to repair any damage done to Lees Mill Road and the use of solar panels that contain nontoxic chemicals.

Carrsville District Commissioner Jennifer Boykin voiced concern about the possible leakage of toxic chemicals from the solar panels into the ground in the event that they become damaged at the Jan. 22 meeting. In response, Page Bolin, Project Manager for SolarGen of VA, said that there are solar panels without toxic chemicals and that their cost compared to other solar panels were comparable. 

According to the project’s conditional use permit application, a feasibility study is slated to begin this month and will last until August. Following are impact and facility studies, and site plan approval is set for early 2021. Construction is scheduled to begin mid-2021, with the site becoming operational by fall of 2021. 

Because of its 55-megawatt energy production capacity, the project will receive an 80-percent tax exemption on real or personal property, equipment, facilities and devices as stated by the Code of Virginia. Solar farms that generate less than five megawatts are property tax exempt.

Bolin said that the project will have a minimum of 60 ft. buffers along Lees Mill and 30 ft. buffers adjacent to neighboring land. She said that no forested areas or wetlands will be disturbed by the project. “We do not believe in going in and clearcutting to make a bigger project,” she said.   

Bolin said that she’s been in contact with staff from Paul D. Camp Community College, namely their solar energy program, so that when it comes time for installation and maintenance, SolarGen can hire from the community first. She added that International Paper has expressed interest in using the power, in addition to other local entities.  {/mprestriction}