A consultants will be brought in to analyze the large proposed solar power facility in Spotsylvania County that has run up against criticism from residents.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to hire consultants to analyze technical aspects of the proposal. Sustainable Power Group will pay the $75,000 for the work done by the consultant. The board did not discuss the issue, which was among numerous items on the work session consent agenda.

As usual during public comment period at board meetings since sPower proposed the facility at the beginning of the year, several residents brought up issues with the project and asked the supervisors to consider the information and deny a special-use permit.

In a letter to the county, local attorney Charles Payne said sPower understands “that our client’s SUP applications are large in scope and complexity, and thus the third-party consultants are necessary to review our various studies ... and to address the questions raised by certain citizens in the community.”

A staff report said the county anticipates “contracting for review of the Decommissioning Plan and Bond Estimate, the Heat Island Effect, and Hydrology Analysis.”

Utah-based sPower’s proposal in Spotsylvania is among more than 150 wind or solar power facilities the company has built or has in the plans. But Spotsylvania’s proposal is mammoth: 1.8 million solar panels propped up on tracts covering more than half of a 6,000-plus acre site in western Spotsylvania.

The project first has to gain approval from the county’s Planning Commission and the supervisors, which will hold public hearings.

The company has adjusted to concerns raised by the county and citizens and continues working on its plans, but residents have dug in, forming a citizens committee and performing in-depth analyses of the proposal.

Some of their key concerns revolve around the environment, safety and property values, with residents zeroing in on water impacts and toxic chemicals that might be an ingredient in the solar panels.

The renewable energy company has already struck deals with major companies and the University of Richmond to sell the proposed plant’s solar power. The solar electricity would be fed into the energy grid and give the companies credit for their energy usage.

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Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436


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