Solar project moving forward

Published 10:27 am Thursday, September 12, 2019

Now that a conditional use permit (CUP) has been approved for the Moody Creek Solar Project, developers say it will still be a while before the solar farm is operational.

“We intend for the project to be operational by the end of 2021,” said Don Giecek, Apex Senior Development Manager.
Giecek continued to say that the approval of the CUP was a crucial step in the project’s development and now Apex and SolUnesco are moving forward and have initiated the field studies needed to apply for a state permit known as a Solar Permit by Rule (PBR).

The Solar PBR addresses pre-construction natural resource analyses, mitigation plans and post-construction monitoring.
According to the Department of Environmental Quality, (DEQ), The number of projects permitted under the solar program has grown exponentially with one PBR issued in 2015, six in 2016, 10 in 2017, and 14 in 2018.

“Once the field studies are complete, we will consult with several state agencies, including the Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Historic Resources and the Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Department of Conservation and Recreation,” explained Giecek. “Additionally, we will perform wetland delineations and work closely with the U.S. Army

Corps of Engineers to ensure any impacts during construction are minimized or entirely avoided.”

The PBR application process also provides for a public hearing which APEX hopes to hold in 2020.

The Moody Creek Solar project calls for the construction of a 150 megavolt utility-scale solar facility (equivalent to 25,000 homes worth of energy). The proposed site, owned by Devein Logging Company/John A. Devin, Jr. & Armistead Tune Devin, is located on Route 47, Crafton’s Gate Highway, approximately 1.4 miles east of the traffic light at the intersection of Highway 360/15 and Route 47.

The solar farm is set to be constructed on property that is approximately 1,655 acres in size.

The solar project will be connected to the existing 115kV Pamplin to Chase City transmission line that crosses the project property and will include the installation of solar panel arrays, inverters, electrical transmission lines, an electric substation, other electrical equipment, gravel access roads, and fencing to secure the project area.

In total, approximately 555,000 solar panels will be installed after all project phases are completed, and according to Giecek the Moody Creek project will create approximately 100 jobs during construction and represents a $200 million investment.