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May 15, 2015

Supervisors give green light to Remington solar farm

We have an opportunity tonight for Fauquier County to lead the way with the first large-scale solar project in Virginia.
— Jim Eck, Dominion vice president
Fauquier’s board of supervisors Thursday night unanimously rezoned land near Remington for the state’s largest solar energy project.

Dominion Virginia Power plans to install 90,000 photovoltaic panels on its property along Lucky Hill Road in southern Fauquier.

The company still needs State Corporation Commission approval for the $47-million project.

“We have an opportunity tonight for Fauquier County to lead the way with the first large-scale solar project in Virginia,” Dominion Vice President of Business Development Jim E. Eck told the supervisors Thursday night.

The supervisors’ public hearing on the proposal drew only three speakers, a sharp contrast to the county planning commission meeting last month. Twenty-two speakers testified against the project during the commission’s April 16 hearing. Most objected to the effect the solar farm would have on the Shady Grove Hunting Preserve, which has rented the site from Dominion since 1990.

Shady Grove owner Neil Selby, however, last week dropped his opposition to the project and sent the supervisors a letter of support. Dominion will help Mr. Selby find a new site for his sporting clays shooting course. His operation also includes bird dog training.

The supervisors voted, 5-0, to grant Dominion a rezoning, comprehensive plan amendment and special exception permit to build the solar farm. It will stand near Dominion’s natural gas-fired generation plant on Lucky Hill Road.

The solar panels will cover 125 of the site’s 277 acres. At their highest points, the panels will stand 7 feet off the ground.

Construction will involve 350 workers, according to Dominion. But, after construction, the solar facility will have no full-time staff.

Fauquier County will collect about $80,000 a year in taxes from the solar farm two miles northeast of Remington.

When the sun shines, the 20-megawatt facility will generate enough electricity for 5,000 homes, according to Dominion.

“I’m not excited about solar energy,” Supervisor Chester Stribling (Lee District) said before Thursday night’s vote. “But, the federal and state government are.”

Mr. Stribling, whose district includes the site, added: “This is a whole lot better than us putting another power plant down there.”

The Old Dominion Electrical Cooperative also has gas-fired “peaking” plant near Dominion’s. Those power plants use huge and noisy turbines to generate electricity on the coldest and hottest days, when demand soars.

Mr. Stribling joked that perhaps tourists will come to “ride electric cars” around the solar farm.

Dominion officials have suggested that the project will attract attention to Fauquier. They hope to start generating electricity there by October 2016. Construction would start this November.

BOS Remington Solar Facilty Staff Report FINAL by Fauquier Now

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