Another One Bites the Dust

Utility-scale solar projects are getting shot down like Hamas rockets.

by James A. Bacon

From today’s news dump courtesy of VA News:

The Fauquier County Board of Supervisors unanimously rejected an application by Dynamic Energy LLC to build a five-megawatt solar facility on 40 acres of farmland near Bealeton, reports Fauquier Now. “When I looked at this,” said Supervisor Rick Gerhardt, “I didn’t want to take solid farmland out of production. Those are good soils on that property. For me, I do not want to see that removed from farming.” The county planning commission had rejected it previously by a 3 to 2 vote.

Meanwhile, Round Hill Solar LLC has withdrawn a plan to develop 560 acres of solar panels from the Augusta County Board of Supervisor. The planning commission had already determined that the plan conflicted with the county’s comprehensive plan that took location, character, and extent of the project into consideration, reports the News Leader.

In other recent solar-related news, Hollow Road Solar LLC, National Fruit Orchards Inc., and Diane Holmes are suing the Frederick County Board of Supervisors for $7.5 million for denying a conditional-use permit to put a 326-acre utility-scale solar facility on land owned by National Fruit Orchards and Diane Holmes. The plaintiffs alleged that the Frederick board had been “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable” in rejecting its application after having approved two similar applications previously. Board members said they wanted to see the impact of the first two solar facilities before approving a third.

Meanwhile, Dominion Energy, which has committed to meet a large share of the 16,000 megawatts of solar or onshore wind energy called for in the Virginia Clean Energy Act, has struck a deal to acquire Birdseye Renewable Energy, a North Carolina-based solar developer, reports Power Finance & Risk.

“We’re combining our company’s financial commitment to clean energy with Birdseye’s proven development expertise,” said Diane Leopold, Dominion’s chief operating officer. “That’s an ideal alignment to advance the goals of the Virginia Clean Energy Act, the North Carolina Clean Energy Plan and Dominion Energy’s goal of net zero emissions.”

Heretofore, Dominion has limited its direct involvement in solar development mainly to pilot projects, preferring to solicit proposals from independent developers through Requests for Proposal. The Birdseye acquisition appears to represent a significant shift in strategy.

Does this strategic shift reflect a change in thinking inside Dominion regarding its ability to meet its clean energy goals? Is the energy giant signaling a willingness to get more involved in the development process? Bacon’s Rebellion will stay on top of this unfolding story.