Letter – Solar project taking a toll

Published 5:08 pm Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

AES’ Sycamore Cross, a 240 MW solar project, concerns me. (See https://www.aes.com/sycamore-cross-solar)

AES construction trucks have used our road as a shortcut for trucks traveling from Surry County sites to sites 4, 5 and 6 on Mill Swamp Road. I have seen all the work and equipment daily for months. 

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Now they are now going to build a site across from us. Sycamore Cross Drive and White Hill Trail run parallel. White Hill Trail is approximately 1½ miles long and 15 feet, 3 inches wide, with 19 families living on this road. I have been driving around other solar farms sites and have not seen any site with this many residences.

A tractor trailer’s width is 8 feet, and when they are passing each other, that 16 feet does not fit on our 15 foot, 3-inch road. We have broken asphalt pieces along the entire road as a result. No dust abatement has been implemented for this solar project either, taking a toll on our livestock.

Two tractor trailers passing each other did take out my and my neighbors’ mailboxes. We followed the driver to a Surry County site, and when I confronted the driver, he was reluctant to discuss it. However, the driver did produce two crisp $100 bills for damages on the spot. We felt like this was hush money. 

I reported this incident three separate times to AES. Each time they told me they had never heard about it and would get back with me. AES visited us at our home in August with an information letter and AES literature. While discussing it, he admitted their poor traffic management.

I assume that Isle of Wight and Surry County supervisors as well as the Planning Commission do not realize the impact. I have visited other sites, and no roads have this many residences.

We also attended AES open houses and were advised of a slight decrease in residential land value. 

To support Renewables Portfolio Standards, Dominion utility rates will raise rates 120% by 2035. For validation go to the SCC  https://scc.virginia.gov/casecomments/Submit-Public-Comments and follow these cases.  Dominion’s RPS is docket PUR-2023-00142, and PUR-2023-00101. Sycamore’s is PUR-2023-00126, and note that “White Hill Trail” is not mentioned anywhere in the case summary.


Wayne Gustison