Navigating amendments

Published 9:22 am Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Charlotte County Planning Commission is facing a difficult set of decisions as it works to form zoning amendments for the county on solar farm development.

The decision was not reached last Tuesday to recommend the amendments, citing that an assessment to determine the capacity of Charlotte County’s existing transmission lines and associated infrastructure would need to take place.

The commission also will need to consider the concerns of one amendment, reducing the maximum size for facilities from 500 acres to 250 acres.

Francis Hodsoll, co-owner of SolUnesco, said in a past Gazette report, “to be perfectly frank, those changes would probably eliminate our project.” He said the 250-acre restriction would reduce the project to about 30-40 megawatts, and the company is predicting output of well over 100 megawatts with at least 700-800 acres of land.

The project, if eliminated, could potentially detract jobs that could be provided for local contractors, Gene H. Hall, Jr., owner of Red Oak Excavating said in a letter to the planning commission.

Hall also suggested that deciding to sell land would need to be up to the individual landowners.

Proposing any kind of new industry to an area can run the risk of benefits and drawbacks. While Solar Photovoltaic (PV) production has seen a year-over-year decrease in 2017, total installed U.S. PV capacity is expected to more than double over the next five years, and by 2023, over 15 GW of PV capacity will be installed annually, GTM Research, an advisory firm with a focus on the global electricity industry, stated in a 2017 executive summary.

It’s crucial to make sure that the farms do not pose potential negative drawbacks to those who may live close to the farms, as the location would most have an effect on those neighboring it.

The planning commission is scheduled to meet April 24 at 7:30 p.m. This is a decision that could have an impact on the county. We encourage the public to attend or write to the planning commission to express your support or concerns about these amendments.

Emily Hollingsworth is a reporter for The Charlotte Gazette and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. His email address is