RUSTBURG — Campbell County residents can expect to see a fourth solar farm come to the area after a revised project in Gladys received supervisors’ approval.
The project initially was approved by the board of supervisors in January, but an inability to procure the easements necessary for the original project forced the company back to the drawing board.
Supervisors on Tuesday night unanimously approved the changes to the updated project, which has a smaller footprint, is further from the Brookneal airport, which it previously adjoined, and decreases panels by about 25%.
The initial proposal spanned 800 acres, but the current project only requires up to 500 acres, and Project Manager Charlie Falter said it likely will only cover about 360 of those.
“This improves the project in, I think, every material aspect,” Falter said. “It shrinks the project, concentrates it in one continuous area closer to the point of interconnection further from the airport [and] eliminates the need for an underground power line.”
The request is from Pigeon Run Solar LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hanwha Energy USA Holdings Corporation, which plans to construct, operate and maintain the solar energy facility east of Brookneal Highway in Gladys.
The project is expected to create about 135 full-time equivalent jobs during construction, and will provide the county significant property tax revenue — about $85,000 in the first year of operations and an average of about $40,000 per year over its 35-year life.
With the project’s approval, Falter said the company hopes to finish development by the end of 2021 and begin construction by 2022. The project is expected to be operational by the end of 2022.
Company officials currently do not have a buyer for the energy the proposed solar farm would produce, but Falter said the company is open to selling power to both local utility companies or larger corporations that are coming to the area, like Facebook and Amazon.
Any contracts could be created as soon as the end of this year or in 2021. He said a year from now, the company would expect to have a power purchase agreement in hand.
Other ongoing solar projects in the county include a 1,200-acre solar farm outside Altavista, a 150-acre project near Rustburg and a 660-acre facility off Gladys Road.
Also at its Tuesday night meeting, supervisors approved a request from the Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center to operate a private day school at Hyland Heights Baptist Church for students with special needs.
The facility would use a portion of the existing church building for the school, and is relocating from its prior location at HumanKind in Lynchburg in order to provide students with a larger space. The center has been serving area children for more than seven years.
Christina Giuliano, executive director of BRAAC, said it is a one-on-one program, and the center has 21 students and 28 staff in place for the upcoming school year, though the space has the capacity for up to 50 students.
The Campbell County Board of Supervisors will next meet Aug. 18.
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