Ho-Fel solar developer soliciting comments on project expansion

Published 11:50 am Monday, February 6, 2023

Pine Gate Renewables, the developer of the 40-megawatt Ho-Fel solar farm near International Paper’s Franklin mill, is inviting citizens to learn more about the recently approved project.

Virginia’s Administrative Code requires operators of solar energy projects rated at 5 megawatts or higher, and disturbing more than 10 acres of land, to hold a 30-day comment period before the state’s Department of Environmental Quality can issue a permit-by-rule. A permit-by-rule, according to the DEQ’s website, certifies that a project meets all requirements under state regulations.

The company has set the comment window from Feb. 23 through March 25.

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A public meeting will be held on March 14 at 5 p.m. at the Ofelia J. Rainey Community Center at 33457 Carver Road, Franklin.

Isle of Wight County supervisors voted 4-1 on Jan. 19 to approve the developer’s request to add acreage to the project.

Solar Get of Virginia LLC, a subsidiary of Colorado-based Aquasan, had received the supervisors’ approval in 2019 to build a roughly 300-acre project on Lees Mill Road. Asheville, North Carolina-based Pine Gate has since purchased the project, which has yet to break ground, and had proposed expanding the facility last year by roughly 18 acres.

Pine Gate contends the extra acreage is needed to space the panels further apart. The original proposal called for a 55-megawatt solar farm, but the estimated output has been reduced to 40 megawatts.

Copies of the documentation to be submitted to the DEQ will be available at the Windsor branch of Blackwater Regional Library at 18 Duke St. on the following dates and times:

  • Monday and Thursday, 1-7 p.m.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Anyone wishing to ask questions or comment on the project during the DEQ’s public comment window can write to Ho-Fel Solar LLC, ATTN: Brown Hobson, 130 Roberts St., Asheville, NC 28801, call 828-436-2974 or email brownhobson@pgrenewables.com.