Preparing for green energy sites

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, July 22, 2020

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Prince Edward County is now better prepared for the possibility of more solar projects coming to the area.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously, with provisions, at its July 14 meeting to amend the county zoning ordinance to provide for and regulate the siting, installation, operation and decommissioning of alternative energy — or “green energy” — sources in the county.

County Administrator Wade Bartlett’s memo to the board reviewed what led to this. It stated that after receiving a recommendation from the Prince Edward County Planning Commission, the Board of Supervisors directed county staff to draft an amendment to the zoning ordinance that would create a new section placing controls and limits on the siting of alternative energy facilities. The Planning Commission approved sending the proposed amendment to the board Jan. 21.

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“With the explosion of solar projects in the commonwealth, the board understood the need to place controls on a use that can impact hundreds, if not thousands, of acres of land,” Bartlett wrote.

The new ordinance allows for solar farms as large as 2,500 acres.

Bartlett quoted part of the first section of the amendment, helping to emphasize the amendment’s primary purpose.

“The intent is to encourage alternative energy sources while limiting negative impacts on natural resources, including pollinator and wildlife habitats, and existing agricultural, forestal, residential, commercial, industrial, historical and recreational uses of property or the future development of property in the county.”

Bartlett said he used existing ordinances from Chesterfield, Halifax and Loudoun counties as guides for the development of the draft ordinance.