More Solar Generation Approved

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

The Charlotte County Board of Supervisors has approved the development of the largest solar project in the Commonwealth and one of the largest east of the Mississippi River.

As reported by the News & Record, the 800-megawatt Randolph Project, debated by the board for almost a year, will occupy approximately 6,000 acres.  It will be developed by SolUnesco of Reston. Dominion Energy plans to purchase the project once it becomes operational. The generating capacity of the project will be less than the nearby 865-megawatt Clover Power Station, which, in contrast, occupies about 1,700 acres. Dominion plans to shutter that coal-fired facility as it transitions to solar and wind energy.

There was one unusual aspect of the negotiations leading up to the vote to approve the project. As part of the agreement for another, earlier, solar project in the county, Courthouse Solar, Dominion had agreed to pay the county $1 million when that plant became operational, projected to be in late 2025. One of the conditions included in the board’s approval for the larger proposed project was an acceleration of that $1 million payment, tying it to approval of the Courthouse Solar project by the State Corporation Commission, rather than when the project became operational. One opponent of the Randolph project called it “an out-and-out bribe.” One of the supervisors supporting the project saw it as an opportunity to reduce county taxes.

Officials from SolUnesco estimated that the project would bring the county more than $311 million in new revenue over its 35-year lifespan.