The state Department of Environmental Quality ordered Dominion Energy to pay $50,700 for allowing stormwater to flow last summer from a solar panel project into a nearby creek.
The fine was imposed as part of a consent order the company agreed to on March 8. Dominion owns the solar field, which sprawls across more than 1,000 acres in the area of Waldrop Church, Old Bickley and Harris Creek roads near the town of Louisa. Wood PLC is erecting the solar panels on Dominion’s behalf.
After heavy rains fell in the area in June 2020, sediment from the solar project was discharged into tributaries and wetlands of Harris Creek, according to the consent order. DEQ considers sediment a pollutant because it can damage aquatic life in a stream and make it unfit for recreational use. The property where the solar panels are being installed was largely forested prior to construction.
The damage to Harris Creek was a factor in the Louisa County Board of Supervisors’ vote last fall to deny a conditional use permit for a separate solar project on the opposite side of Waldrop Church Road. Dominion intended to invest in that project if the permit were issued.
Dominion told DEQ staff in a meeting in September that the company had remediated the problems it had caused near the solar site. Revised erosion and sediment control plans were submitted to Louisa County community development staff for review, stabilization measures were installed, and “sediment had been hand-removed from impact areas.”
A monitoring plan was put in place for the affected wetland areas through the 2021 growing season. The county approved the revised erosion control plans in January.