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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