Clearway Energy Group’s Fountain Creek Solar Project Open House allowed Clearway Energy to discuss their solar project and receive feedback from the community.
The solar project’s installed capacity is 80 megawatts, which means the project saves enough greenhouse gases to take at least 25,000 cars off the road a year.
Dan Hendrick, Clearway Energy’s east region head of external affairs, said the solar project occupies around 800 acres. It will be bounded by Fish Road, Fountain Creek Road, and Brink Road in Greensville County.
“We were trying to find a place where there was minimal visual disruption. So, wherever we could find trees to sort of, you know, meet (screen) the lines so you wouldn’t really get to see it,” Hendrick said.
Clearway Energy will plant trees to cover the solar panels. There will be a 150-foot setback to the fence line of the project and a visual screen, or buffer, of 100 feet.
“We wanted to minimize the visual impact for some neighbors. Sometimes we hear from folks that they don’t want to see it, so we picked a location where the visual impact is minimal and where we can further screen it so people don’t worry about it,” Hendrick said.
The solar project will create 175 construction jobs while being built. Once the solar project is operational, only a handful of jobs will remain including the plant manager, operations workers, and maintenance workers.
Clearway Energy hopes to partner with The Virginia Solar Research Institute to train and match local workers to solar project jobs.
The solar project totals about $100 million. The property taxes for Greensville County will be a little over $100,000 a year.
Clearway Energy calculated $14 million of economic impact associated with the solar project. This includes the jobs created, upgrades to the local community, hotel stays by employees and more.
Hendrick said Clearway Energy is excited to bring Virginia made energy into Virginia. The solar panels will be connected to Dominion Energy.
“We know that Dominion and a bunch of other consumers are looking for this renewable energy out there, so we’re really excited about meeting the demand that’s out there for this,” Hendrick said.
Clearway Energy currently operates 4.1 gigawatts of wind and solar projects, and another 6 gigawatts, including Fountain Creek, in development around the country.
Clearway Energy views the solar project as an economic engine for municipalities. Often they need the revenue.
Solar is a temporary use. After the end of the solar project’s lifespan, which is usually 20 to 35 years, the solar panels can be hauled away, so there is not a lasting footprint in the community.
Susan Gladding, the development manager on the solar project, said Clearway Energy held the Solar Project Open House to get feedback from the community.
“Before we go in with an application we really want to make sure that the community, their concerns have been addressed,” Gladding said.
James R. Brown, an elected supervisor on the Greensville County Board of Supervisors, said the solar project is solid thing for the city and community.
“It’s good, but it’s better for the landowners, the ones really getting a profit from it,” Brown said.
Brown said technology is changing and people need more sources of energy.
The Fountain Creek Solar Project Open House started the formal review process for the Fountain Creek Solar Project. The Greensville County Planning Commission will create a comprehensive plan review in January for the solar project. The solar project then will need a special use permit review by the Planning Commission in February before the Greensville County Board of Supervisors receives the plan in March 2020.
Clearway Energy hopes to start construction late 2020.