500 MW Virginia Solar Project Gets Green Signal

Spotsylvania County, Virginia Grants 3 Special Use Permits To SPower’s Proposed 500 MW Solar Power Plant To Be Developed Over 2 Years
05:25 AM (Beijing Time) - 17. April 2019

Having faced opposition to its 500 MW project in Spotsylvania, sPower has finally got special use permits from the county administration. The project already has Microsoft on board as one of the off-takers for the power generated. Pictured on July 17, 2014 is a pedestrian walking a sign on the Microsoft headquarters campus in Redmond Washington. (Photo Credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images/Microsoft)

Key Takeaways

  • A 500 MW solar power project proposed by sPower for Spotsylvania County in Virginia has secured 3 special permits from local administration
  • Project will be built in phases over a period of next 2 years, generating close to 800 construction jobs and 35 full-time positions
  • Solar panels will be mounted on single-axis tracker system and will use 3,500 acres of timbered land, out of total 6,350 acres allotted to the company

American renewable energy company Sustainable Power Group (sPower) has got thumbs up from the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors in Virginia for its proposed 500 MW solar power project. The board has granted 3 special use permits for the project that will create some 800 construction jobs and 35 full-time jobs, according to the company.

To be built in phases over the next 2 years, the project is expected to generate more than $20 million in new tax revenue for the county. On completion, it will generate enough power to suffice electricity requirements of around 111,000 homes.

sPower says this will be among the largest solar projects in the United States. According to the project website, solar panels mounted on single-axis tracker systems will spread across 3,500 acres of timbered land, out of total allotted land of 6,350 acres. The rest will be preserved as undeveloped, conserved land.

In March 2018, Microsoft agreed to purchase 315 MW of energy from the project making it the single largest corporate purchase of solar energy in the country (see Microsoft Signs Mega Solar Deal For 315 MW).

The permits from the county administration would be a relief to the company that had to face opposition for the 500 MW project from local residents who were up in arms as they feared cutting down of trees, among other environmental damages to put up the plant, according to a December 2018 article by AP News. According to the project website, the company expects non-toxic herbicides to be used to limit growth of grass and other low-lying vegetation around the solar panels.

Addressing such concerns, sPower has agreed to use municipal water supply for the construction and development of the project, and affirmed groundwater wells previously drilled on site will not be used unless there is municipal water system failure.

Anu Bhambhani

Anu Bhambhani is the Senior News Editor of TaiyangNews

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Anu Bhambhani