State to buy solar power produced in Louisa

More than half the power produced by a giant solar farm in Louisa County will be sold to the Commonwealth of Virginia to help satisfy its renewable energy goals.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Oct. 18 that the state will buy 88 megawatts of electricity to be produced by the solar array near Waldrop Church Road, southwest of the town of Louisa.

Dominion Energy owns the project, which was approved by the Louisa County Board of Supervisors in 2017. It will be built on more than 1,000 acres owned by Boyd Cash LLC, of which Harold Purcell is managing member.

“With this landmark contract, Virginia is leading by example and demonstrating how states can step up to combat climate change and advance a clean energy economy,” said Northam. 

The state also agreed to buy power from three other solar installations under development in King and Queen County, the city of Chesapeake and an unidentified third location and a wind farm in Botetourt County.

Northam said the deal involving the five solar and wind projects represents the largest contract that any state has negotiated to buy renewable energy to power its own facilities.

The solar purchase enables the state government to meet its goal of buying 30 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2022. Northam signed an executive order in September to obtain a third of Virginia’s electric system from renewables by 2030, and 100 percent of electricity from carbon-free sources by 2050. 

Virginia Solar LLC obtained a conditional use permit from the supervisors in 2017 to allow up to 370,000 solar modules on the Waldrop Church Road property, with a capacity of 88 megawatts of power. The supervisors amended the permit at the company’s request in January 2019 to allow up to 150 megawatts. Development would be in two phases, with at least 75 megawatts produced in the first phase. The solar modules have an estimated 35-year lifespan.

The project will be the second large solar development in Louisa County. Dominion previously built a 250-acre solar field on land just north of Davis Highway (Route 22) and west of Chalk Level Road.

Earlier this year, Virginia Solar officials said they intend to complete the first phase of construction by the end of 2020.