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Company Seeks Special-Use Permit to Build Solar Panels in Augusta Co.

Posted: Updated: Aug 08, 2018 03:50 PM
A company wants to put 1,000 acres of solar panels on farmland in Augusta County A company wants to put 1,000 acres of solar panels on farmland in Augusta County
AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

Community Energy Solar is looking to put thousands of solar panels on Augusta County farmland, which will require a special-use permit.

The developers introduced the community to the project during a meeting in Lyndhurst on Thursday, August 2.

Tom Anderson, a project developer with Community Energy Solar, is showing people what 1,000 acres of solar panels would look like in Stuarts Draft and Lyndhurst.

“This is a renewable energy project,” says Anderson. “It's a solar energy project.”

The $160 million project has caught the interest of a large corporate buyer, which, according to Anderson, would purchase all of the energy produced by the project once it’s complete and operational.

Anderson says the project would provide 20,000 homes' worth of solar energy on a yearly basis for the community, and bring in additional tax money to the county.

“The landowners like this opportunity because it helps them get stable income from a portion of their agricultural portfolio,” says Anderson. Community Energy is executing 35-year leases with 10 landowners.”

Anderson adds that not everyone is happy about the proposal, though.

Jerry Hite and his wife, Monica Blessing, live in the Hamptons near Kennedy Creek in Stuarts Draft in a house they took years to find.

“And we thought this is a perfect location for she and I to retire in and to live in and now we have this,” says Hite.

Hite says he's worried about decreasing property value, the possible risks of the electromagnetic field, and he’s upset about changing the quiet beautiful landscape.

“I'm highly upset,” says Hite. “I don't want to lose value on my property, nor do I want to live next to a power field.”

Anderson says he hasn't seen any evidence of property values going either way, and adds that a lot of concerns are because it's new and different.

“Once they look at the technology, look at how low-profile it is - it doesn't make noise,” says Anderson. “It doesn't smell. And because it's low-profile, it's very easy to buffer. We hope that they'll see this as a very good neighbor.”

“I work seven days a week in the grocery business,” says Hite. “I work very hard. And when I come home at night, I want to relax in my backyard and I don't want to be impacted by that.”

Anderson says the plan is to file for a special-use permit in the next couple of weeks. The public will get a chance to weigh in on the plans, and then Augusta County supervisors will make a final decision.

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