Hearing to discuss solar energy

Published 11:23 am Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Members of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors and the Charlotte County Planning Commission will hear public input regarding proposed amendments to the county zoning ordinance relating to solar energy uses.

The joint meeting, according to a public notice from the county, will take place Monday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m. in the boardroom of the Charlotte County Administrative Building on 250 LeGrande Ave.

Proposed amendments to the ordinance, according to a document of the ordinance draft on the county website, include changes to the location and maintenance of a solar energy system and application requirements and processes.

Proposed changes to location and maintenance of a solar energy system include not having the facility be located within one mile of an existing town boundary or another approved solar energy system, according to the

document. The solar energy system should not extend beyond 500 acres, the document cited.

The document also cited repairing panels in visible disrepair and restoring panels using non-reflective finish.

The proposed amendments also relate to the application process for solar energy systems.

“Prior to submitting an application for a utility-scale solar energy system, applicants shall have a pre-application meeting with the zoning administrator, or his/her designee, to discuss the location, scale and nature of the proposed project and the application review process,” the amendment cited.

An applicant for a solar energy system would provide a completed Charlotte County Conditional Use Permit application, a detailed project description, including the proposed location, approximate number of panels, screening and fencing methods and expected footprint of solar equipment to be constructed. The applicant would also provide aerial imagery of the location, a preliminary plan created by a professional engineering company and a decommission plan or the plan for potentially removing the solar facility site.

Charlotte County Purchasing Agent and Planner Monica Elder said the county first discussed regulations for solar energy farms in 2016 but said there were not as many solar energy farms that had developed during that time.

Elder said with the increasing number of solar projects taking place in Virginia, including eight small renewable-energy solar farms in Halifax County and a recently-established solar farm in Buckingham County, the planning commission sought to make the recommended amendments to their ordinance.

“The information we have gained about utility-scale solar from these new projects, the application we reviewed earlier this year and the experiences of neighboring localities led the planning commission to review Charlotte County’s zoning regulations for solar uses and recommend the proposed amendments,” Elder said.

Elder said while the commission received inquiries about developing solar farms, she said the commission has not received any recent applications.

A permit for a 15-megawatt solar farm in Drakes Branch from energy company Holocene Clean Energy was approved by the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors in August.