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Decision on solar facility deferred

The Charlotte County Planning Commission voted 6 to 2 to defer the decision on a proposed 167-megawatt photovoltaic solar energy facility known as Courthouse Solar.

According to the application summary, NOVI Energy proposes to construct a solar facility on 1,354 acres from 12 parcels owned by Blue Rock Resources, LLC, Ridgeway Farm LLC, and Robert Locke.

Energy generating equipment will be located on approximately 1,000 acres.

The project infrastructure will consist primarily of approximately 500,000 solar photovoltaic modules mounted on steel racking structures with single-axis tracking, 58 inverters and transformers, a substation with transformers, switchgear, and dead-end structures, and a controls building.

The project is southwest of Charlotte Court House and generally bound to the north by George Washington Highway (Rt. 40), to the west by Tollhouse Highway (Rt. 47), to the east by Eureka School Road, and to the south by Ash Camp Creek. The applicant proposes using multiple gated entrances off public roads (Shady Oaks Road, Ingleside Lane, and Eureka School Road).

Although this was not a public hearing, there was a public comment period of the meeting in which several citizens expressed their concerns.

In a letter to the commission, Edward and Janet Early stated there was no harm in delaying the decision to further study how solar would affect the land and area.

“Long term planning is essential,” the letter stated.

Keysville resident P.K. Pettus also urged the commission to postpone any action on the request until early 2021.

Robert Wood addressed the commission in person to express his “complete disappointment of the project.” Wood said he moved to the county more than 15 years ago for the quality of life and could see no good coming from land that would be destroyed.

Francis Hodsoll, CEO with Solunesco the applicants of the Moody Creek project located in the county, was in attendance and spoke up at the end of the meeting.

“There have been comments made in this room that are not founded,” he said. “We’ve had this technology since the 1950s.”

Hodsoll said that on the Moody Creek project, SolUnesco worked closely with the county to create conditions in the zoning permit that maximize the value to all Charlotte County residents. “Over its life, Moody Creek will pay Charlotte County twice the payments required by law,” he said. “Charlotte County supervisors, planning commissioners, and staff achieved a set of conditions ensuring Moody Creek is a good neighbor: buffers and setbacks, requirements on construction, decommissioning requirements to restore the land to its previous use, decommissioning financial security, and other conditions. Today, neighboring counties use the Moody Creek project as the yardstick for the fiscal benefit.”

Planning commission member Cornell “Brick” Goldman explained why he voted no against deferring the decision. Goldman said that it was not right to discriminate against this solar facility when they have voted in favor of the others. Goldman, who noted he was a farmer, pointed out, “We all use energy, we all need energy … This is next-generation farming.”