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Utility-Scale Solar Application Review

Charlotte County

Charlotte County engaged the Berkley Group to assist in reviewing and processing their fifth and largest utility-scale solar facility application. The first four, ranging in size from 1.6 to 150 MW, were handled by County staff and approved by the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. The Courthouse Solar Facility application, received in fall of 2020, proposed a 167 MW utility-scale solar facility, thus invoking a different set of state laws and regulations.

The proposed facility would occupy approximately 1,000 of the 1,354 acres from 12 parcels owned by three entities. The facility would consist primarily of approximately 500,000 solar photovoltaic modules mounted on steel racking structures with single axis tracking, 60 inverters and transformers, a substation with transformers, switchgear, and dead-end structures, and a controls building. The facility would interconnect to the grid via a transmission line that runs through the property. The applicant proposed setbacks and a vegetated buffer using existing vegetation where possible and planting new vegetation where necessary. The applicant anticipated an operational lifespan of approximately 35 years and provided a draft Decommissioning Plan.

 

For this project, the Berkley Group:

 

  • Reviewed the application and requested missing or inadequate information.

  • Reviewed the project proposal for substantial accord with the Comprehensive Plan (Virginia Code Section 15.2-2232).

  • Evaluate the project proposal for compliance with the Zoning Ordinance.

  • Facilitated county staff, Planning Commissioners, Supervisors, and other interested stakeholders on understanding and evaluating the proposed project and potential impacts on the community.

  • Developed site specific use permit conditions, including increased setbacks and buffers, the addition of wildlife corridors, and significant improvements to the Decommissioning Plan for site restoration.

  • Analyzed county revenue options and participated in revenue negotiations.

 

With the Berkley Group’s support, county staff, Commissioners, Supervisors, and the applicant agreed upon project details, use conditions, and mitigation measures to support this project as an asset to the community.