Thank you for affording me this opportunity to address your readers and to properly introduce Urban Grid Solar, a Virginia-based solar development firm and my employer.
I am an experienced renewable energy developer and I live in Charlottesville, Virginia. My job at Urban Grid Solar is to manage the permitting process for Cape Solar, the project in Page County concerning a few of your readers. My work takes me to all corners of the Commonwealth as we endeavor to add clean energy to the power grid.
While I usually refrain from writing letters such as this — instead working through the local government approval process — the recent news of a proposed 14-cent tax rate increase on real estate has caused me to speak up. The Cape Solar project will have a substantial economic impact in Page County and now is the time to really consider what’s on the table as the Board of Supervisors approach a vote on the solar ordinance.
Calculating the economic impact of the Cape Solar project proposed by Urban Grid is simple math. But in letters of opposition to this project there has been some confusion and frankly, misrepresentation of the facts. Let me break it down:
$100,000 = Paid to Page County in Year One as a result of the land coming out of Land Use
$2,367,531 = Paid to Page County in real property tax and machinery and tools tax over the 35 year project life
$4,482,688 = Paid to Page County in revenue share proceeds over the 35 year project life
$6,950,219 = Total Amount Paid to Page County from the Cape Solar Project
Here are the details of the three types of payments Page County is set to receive if the Cape Solar project moves forward:
With the adoption of the revenue share legislation by the Virginia General Assembly last year, counties now have the ability to tax solar projects $1,400 per installed megawatt. Unlike the machinery and tools tax, there is no depreciation schedule and no impact to the County’s public school funding formula.
The 2021 General Assembly enhanced the revenue share payment to counties by including a 10% increase in the initial $1,400 per megawatt payment every five years! For Cape Solar, a 67.5 MW project, this means the County will receive $4,482,688 over the 35-year life of the project just for the revenue share tax.
In addition to the revenue share tax payments, Cape Solar would generate real property tax payments, and the switching station would be subject to the machinery and tools tax. Furthermore, when the land is taken out of land use, the County would receive approximately $100,000 in the first year of operation.
In summary, the combination of the real property tax, the revenue share tax, the machinery and tools tax collected on the project switching station, and the removal of the land from land use, the Cape Solar project would provide $6,950,219 to the County over the project’s 35-year project life.
Here’s looking at it another way. Page County projects the increase in school operating expenses to be $1,018,075 annually. Revenue from the Cape Solar project would provide nearly 20 percent of this annual funding increase for schools.
Respectfully, my goal here is to be very clear regarding the economic benefit to your county. The math is irrefutable and the timing couldn’t be more critical.
In rural counties throughout Virginia, especially in an economy recovering from months of shuttered local businesses due to the pandemic, solar projects are having a transformative economic effect on communities. Beyond the $6.9 million in revenue, Cape Solar will generate the equivalent electricity used by 18,885 homes each year for decades. If you agree that the economic and environmental benefits produced by Cape Solar benefit Page County, we welcome your support.
Rob Propes, Project Development Manager ~ Urban Grid Solar
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OK, maybe I’m thick, maybe not.
I have read several recent articles concerning 2 subjects – solar in Page County and a 14-cent tax hike on real estate. Both seem to dovetail in the local news but, in this single article, they are apparently being pitted against each other.
Are we seeing a veiled “promise” by the county that if we don’t vote for solar (which has been voted down at least once previously) we are going to see a tax hike? Should we read this as a threat? If not, please explain why there is such a PUSH for solar in a county that has previously voted it down? What is in it for us, other than MAYBE not a near immediate tax hike?
What’s the real story here?
What is so hard to understand?
our citizens DON’T WANT INDUSTRIAL UTILITY SOLAR IN PAGE COUNTY!
Every time Urban Grid comes to the table their numbers become more and more inflated. At the beginning of this process the numbers were considerably lower. But let’s pretend to go with their numbers. What will happen to page county. We rely on tourism. People come here because it’s like stepping back in time. It’s green and pristine and lovely. I hear it all the time. If tourism slows because the view shed is ruined… then what. The lodging tax I pay (and others in the lodging industry) will be reduced. The restaurant industries that rely on guests…the taxes they pay will be reduced. This potentially wipes out any gain. Let’s talk about when the solar industrial panels finally come to their end of life. These companies are LLCs. Set up as shell companies They can easily walk away claiming bankruptcy and then leave page county to clean up the mess. Now is not the time to destroy farmland/woodland for solar. Now is the time to support our farmers to keep the land as farmland. Put solar panels on buildings, house or on parking lots. Or how about on the giant Amazon complex in Louden county ? Leave Page county truly GREEN
What a wonderful opportunity! It will be nice for Page County to finally see some economic benefits from the growth of renewable energy instead of giving it all away to the surrounding areas. Neighboring Warren County is heavily dependent on tourism and agriculture, yet they managed to accommodate a solar field development without suffering an economic collapse. This seems like a great way to marry Page’s rural agrarian past (and present) with a sustainable future, while at the same time reaping economic benefits other surrounding counties already enjoy.
The BOS need to adopt a protective ordinance that serves the best interests of Page County. We the tax payers paid to have one written by un-biased consultants. We have seen the one you wrote, and the protections were stripped out and only serves the interests of Urban Grid.
When these projects came here 3 years ago and Urban Grid convinced the BOS to lower the panel fees the county lost approximately $3,500,000 in potential fees upfront.
Now you want the citizens to be in support of these anticipated amounts over the lifetime of the project which is somewhere over the next 35 years (and originally sought for 99)? What about the loss of revenue to the county for the properties that will be devalued as a result of this project? What about the permanent loss of prime farmland?
The electricity it will produce will not benefit Page County.
There will be no permanent jobs, only permanent damage.
Warren County is a poor role model for any county considering the issues with their top officials embezzling and economic development fraud scandals.
Could you please share the name of Warren County’s successful industrial solar project, size, location and the economic benefits they are currently enjoying?