After more than two years of hard work and at least $15,000 spent by the County for a consultant, the Planning Commission voted 9-to-1 to forward an ordinance on Solar Facilities to the Board of Supervisors for approval. This is an outstanding ordinance that provides opportunities for many land owners to profit by leasing their land for utility-scale solar farms while, at the same time, providing safeguards for the County’s primary agriculture and tourism economies. It should be approved as submitted.
But there is a fly in the ointment. On December 15, the [board of supervisors] held a public hearing where approximately 40 citizens spoke in favor of the ordinance and only one spoke in opposition. That one was Attorney Robert Janney representing Mr. Robert Houser, the land owner of the Cape Solar Project that was rejected by the [board] a year ago. Mr. Janney proposed changes to the ordinance that would gut the safeguards and allow the Cape Solar Project to go forward. Mr. Janney’s proposed changes had been rejected by the Planning Commission.
There are several issues, but the most important is the allowed size of a solar farm, specifically the area inside the security fence that would encompass the solar panels and associated equipment. The Cape Project wanted 340 acres. The ordinance would allow 200 acres.
The smaller solar farms would be easier to screen from view. But also important, the smaller size would allow more land owners to benefit. The total of all solar farms in Page Valley is limited by the capacity of the transmission lines. If one or two large projects consume that capacity then none is left for other farmers.
Smaller solar projects are better for our environment and local economies and also allow more farmers to reap the benefits of solar farming.
Call your Supervisor and demand Mr. Janney’s proposed changes be rejected.
Clyde Humphrey ~ Luray, Va.
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