Proposed Solar Power Farm Spooks Local Virginians

Published December 17, 2018

Utah-based Sustainable Power Group, better known as sPower, hopes to build a 6,350-acre solar farm in Spotslvania County, Virginia within the next few years. As proposed, the farm will be comprised 1.8 million solar panels, making it the largest solar power farm of its kind east of the Rocky Mountains.

A project of this size near a populated area is unprecendented. Locals say they are alarmed at what effect the massive farm will have on the local environment.

A large group of concerned citizens is fighting the plan, hoping to force sPower to scale-back the project.

‘Unproven and Uncertain’ Impact

The huge solar farms could harm the local environment, says Dave Hammond, a leader of Concerned Citizens of Fawn Lake and Spotsylvania County.

“[The environmental impact is] unproven and uncertain,” the American Spectator reports Hammond saying. “Their alternative is to use this project as the guinea pig. You build it first and then you find out the consequences later.”

If completed the sPower’s solar farm would be the fifth largest solar farm in America, with the other four being in sparsely populated regions of Western states. sPower’s solar facility will generate 500 megawatts of solar power, which the company hopes to sell to clients like Microsoft and Apple, who have offices in Spotsylvania.

Size, Waste Concerns

According to the American Spectator, Kevin McCarthy, another leader of Concerned Citizens of Fawn Lake and Spotsylvania County told the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, the size of the project worries him.

“It’s bigger than our beloved city of Fredericksburg. Six thousand three hundred and fifty acres, said McCarthy. “That’s 10 square miles. It’s half the size of Manhattan. It’s huge.

 “There’s nothing of this magnitude located near residential areas, farms, schools, wetlands, aquifers,” McCarthy said. “There’s no way to get data on what this is going to mean.”

Virginia’s State Corporation Commission (SCC) has already approved the project, making approval by Spotsylvania’s county leaders the only remaining obstacle to its construction.

Residents like Hammond and McCarthy worry the site of the solar farm could become polluted, resulting in property values near the site to fall, causing a decrease in property tax revenues for the county,

“Are we really going to do this,” McCarthy asked the American Spectator. “Are we really going to take two-and-a-half percent of the land mass of Spotsylvania County and turn it over to investors?

“Because that’s what they are, they’re here for the gold rush,” McCarthy said. “And we’ll be left with the 10 square miles of junk metals and toxic waste.”

Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) writes from Dallas, Texas.