Largest solar farm in Southwest Virginia on agenda in Pulaski County | Govt and Politics |

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Sheep graze behind the Carilion New River Valley Medical Center between solar panels in the hospital. A national company is proposing a similar solar infrastructure, but it is much larger in Pulaski County and not too far from the medical center.

Carilion New River Valley Medical Center installed an array of solar panels on its seven-acre campus outside of Radford. These panels are similar to those constructed by Hecate in a larger project proposed by Pulaski County.

A map of the proposed Pulaski County solar project.

The Pulaski County government will first consider the largest solar farm in Southwest Virginia-one of the largest solar farms in the state.

Hecate Energy and its Virginia subsidiary, AgriSunPower, have applied for a special use permit that will allow property owners in the county to lease their land to this Chicago-based company to build on the company’s land capable of generating 300 megawatts According to company spokesperson Jay Poole, the energy solar farm is sufficient to power approximately 57,000 homes during peak periods. The project will occupy 2,000 acres of land near the New River Valley Airport and NRV Business Park.

According to the state, there are more than 50 solar farms in use or under construction throughout the state.

. The site does not appear to show a larger scale than the one proposed for Pulaski, but Poole said there are plans to build a 500-megawatt facility in Spotsylvania County, as well as part of an agreement with Facebook to build a 300-megawatt solar power plant in Henrico County. , To build a new data center in the area.

Although the Pulaski County project is large in the state, Hecate has larger solar farms at work in Texas, New Mexico, and California.

Poole reiterated that his $400 million Pulaski County project is fully within the company's capabilities.

The company already has about 20 landowners interested in leasing properties for the approximately 2,700-acre Pulaski County project, although Poole said it will only use approximately 1,900 acres because some leased land is not conducive to residential solar panels.

The person who leases the land pays in acres, but Poole refuses to specify the amount due to privacy concerns.

According to Hecate's application to the county, the proposed land for the project is currently only zoned for agricultural use, but the company has applied for a permit allowing the company to lease these properties for 35 years, which is the expected life of the project . .

Those who expressed objections to the project on social media said the project would become a thorn in the neighbouring property and would harm the county’s agricultural operations.

However, according to county chief executive Jonathan Sweet (Jonathan Sweet), most of the county's land is still zoned for agricultural purposes. Sweet said the county has 103,726 acres (52.9% of agricultural land). In addition, agriculture is also allowed in the protected area, which occupies about 59,000 acres, which is 30% of the county's land.

Opponents of the project also pointed out that Joe Guthrie, chairman of the board of supervisors, believes they believe there is a conflict of interest, and he is planning to lease about half of his family's 460 acres to Hecate near the airport. Guthrie said he and the county are transparent about the situation.

Guthrie announced at an information conference about the project in December that he had a vested interest in the project, and the opinion of the county federal prosecutor Justin Griffith pointed out that as long as Guthrie reveals personal opinions, It is legal to vote or discuss the project as a board member. Interest in the project, and the project includes three or more participants. The files of Guthrie and Griffith are public records.

Guthrie declined to go into the details of the project in more detail, including whether he will vote to approve the license at the executive meeting on January 25, and stated that all the comments he must make on the matter have been submitted in his public statement .

Sweet said that since 2018, Hecate and County have been negotiating the feasibility of the project. Poole says his company's interest in Pulaski is largely related to the county's rich land.

In addition to hoping that the county will receive additional taxes from the project (currently expected to receive approximately US$15 million in the next 35 years), Sweet hopes that the county’s commitment to renewable energy will bring other positive results to the local area.

He wrote in an email: "I also hope that it will better help us market our communities to companies and industries that value renewable energy." In addition, I hope this will help preserve ownership of the family's farmland. , And provide the necessary source of income for private landowners who will lease land for the project. "

He continued: “The demand for renewable energy from large companies is growing. The market for differentiated communities is also growing. In these communities, counties are competing for the next economic development project. Have these in the community. Types of assets can help us develop and position economically, or compete at the county level, and can also provide us with a marketable image, which may increase the site location decision."

The county planning committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the project at 7 pm on Tuesday in the county high school auditorium. It will consider the application and make recommendations to the supervisory board. Then, the supervisor plans to hold another public hearing on January 25 and may vote on the matter.

For more information about this project, please visit


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Sam Wall covers Pulaski, Radford and Radford University.


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A Chicago-based company aims to build a 2,700-acre solar farm on various properties throughout Pulaski County

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