The Louisa County Planning Commission approved the application for a conditional use permit submitted by Aura Power Development for the Mine and Hemmer utility-scale solar facility.
The Mine and Hemmer land located just outside the Town of Mineral between Route 522 and Chopping Road, is owned by Charles Purcell and his son, Louisa District Supervisor Eric Purcell.The facility would operate for 35 to 50 years and only requires 200 of the 448.9 acres.
Charles Purcell gave a presentation to the commission at its Oct. 14 meeting and addressed several issues related to solar development that residents and county officials are concerned about, including traffic control during construction and stormwater runoff.
“This project is intentionally not Belcher,” said Purcell, referring to the troubled solar project southwest of the town of Louisa.
He explained how when Belcher Solar cleared their 1,100 acres, only nine sediment basins were built. Even though only 200 acres are set to be cleared for Mine and Hemmer, they are going to put in 27 basins to control the runoff.
With the location of the facility being close to an already high-traffic area, Cuckoo District Commissioner George Goodwin expressed his concern of even more traffic due to construction sites. Purcell agreed to not have construction take place during peak traffic hours.
He said there will be a 200-foot tree buffer put in place which exceeds the county’s 150-foot requirement. This ensures residents would not be able to see the facility from any aspect outside of the 200 acres.
At the Louisa County Board of Supervisors meeting on Oct. 18, Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes read a statement on behalf of the board’s solar committee. He expressed the committee’s desire to meet with Dominion Energy officials to address ongoing stormwater runoff issues at the Belcher Solar site.
He mentioned the possibility of revoking the conditional use permit that was granted to Dominion, noting that the company was fined $50,000 last spring by the state Department of Environmental Quality for allowing sediment to flow off the solar construction site into Harris Creek in 2020. Conditional use permits usually include a provision enabling the board to revoke them if local or state laws are violated.
Barnes also said he was concerned that Dominion reportedly has offered some residents financial compensation if they agree not to file legal claims against the company for damage to their land caused by stormwater runoff.