Solar farm proposed in Apple Grove

The next solar panel farm in the county is planned on 225 acres near the corner of Jefferson Highway (Route 33) and Apple Grove Road.

Reston-based SolUnesco plans a 20-megawatt solar installation on the property, which was recently timbered. The company is trying to organize a virtual neighborhood meeting to inform people who own adjoining parcels.

“We recognize the COVID-19 situation has created some uncertainty about when or how we can have our hearing,” Seth Maughan, SolUnesco director of project development, wrote in a statement read by Supervisor Toni Williams (Jackson District) at the May 4 board meeting. “While we wait, we are attempting to move forward with items within our control.”

The company needs a conditional use permit to locate the solar farm on the property. The emergency ordinance the board passed last week, which could be in effect for the next four months, says that normal rules on how long the county government can take to process a land use application are suspended. The board agreed last month that it would avoid hearings on major applications until the public can again attend meetings in person. 

At 20 megawatts of energy production, SolUnesco’s facility would be comparable in size to the one Dominion Energy built in 2016 on the north side of Davis Highway (Route 22). Both projects are dwarfed by the 88-megawatt solar farm now under construction by Belcher Solar off of Waldrop Church Road. Belcher Solar recently applied to the county for a permit to add another 62 megawatts on land nearby.

SolUnesco proposed a 50-to-125-foot setback from adjacent properties, with 75 to 100 feet of green space to shield the solar panels from view from Jefferson Highway and adjoining properties. The project is on land owned by GPS Property Inc., of Mechanicsville, and Robert Bunting.

The company estimates its project would generate up to $87,000 in property taxes for the county in its first year of operation.

Last updated on May 11, 2020

Recommended for you