FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The applicant/developer is Sustainable Power Group (sPower). Headquartered in Salt Lake City, with offices in San Francisco, Long Beach, New York City, and just recently, Spotsylvania, sPower is a leading independent power producer (IPP) that owns and operates more than 150 utility and commercial distributed electrical generation systems across the United States. sPower’s portfolio consists of 13 gigawatts (GW) of development and operating assets. sPower was acquired by AES and AIMCo in February 2017, of which the former is located in Arlington, Virginia.
The Spotsylvania Solar Energy Center (Project) is a 500-Megawatt (MW) solar project located in western Spotsylvania County, Virginia. The Project will utilize photovoltaic (PV) solar panels installed on a tracking single-axis tracker system.
If approved, construction is could begin in March 2019, and be completed by December 2020.
The project footprint (i.e., solar panels and ancillary equipment) will encompass 3,500 acres and 2,850 acres will be preserved as open space. The total area that is evaluated in the permit application includes 6,350 acres.
sPower has options to purchase the land from several different landowners. sPower would most likely purchase the land prior to construction.
No. Special Use Permit applications were submitted to Spotsylvania County in March 2018. The applications were voted on by the Planning Commission on January 16, 2019 and will go before the Board of Supervisors on February 26th.
The Project Site was selected due to its proximity to the existing Spotsylvania Substation, located adjacent to the Project Site. This prevents the Project from needing additional transmission lines spanning across Spotsylvania County. The existing Spotsylvania Substation is large enough to interconnect the 500 MWs generated by the Project.
sPower would have the ability to sell power to a utility customer or corporate and industrial clients that connect into the electrical grid.
There are standard energy tax structures in Virginia that address new power plant facility development. The project pays property taxes and a portion of their improvements will also be taxed. The exact amount will be determined during their state permitting process and be dependent on the developer’s final design.
Spotsylvania County will benefit from increased tax assessment, employment for residents, and economic stimulation for local businesses. sPower is also entering into a private-pbulic partnership with Spotsylvania County to enhance the water utility infrastructure.
sPower has held two meetings at this point and committed to meeting with neighbors, community organizations, local contractors and other groups. The County does require outreach and public notice during the Special Use Permit process.
No. There will be no change to your electricity bill as a result of the project.
The Project is anticipated to employ 700 construction employees during peak construction. On average, there will be approximately 350 construction workers on-site on a daily basis.
The Project is anticipated to employ 20–25 employees during operations.
sPower will be holding local job fairs for employment on the project. sPower will provide information to the County and market the job fairs through newspaper and local community organizations.
sPower will work with its general contractor to include local hires as part of the workforce to the maximum extent possible. This may include local career fairs and job training.
The majority of the Project will be shielded from public view due to the preservation of vegetation buffers, setbacks from property lines, and natural topography. There are few locations where the Project may be visible from West Catharpin Road.
No. There will not be a need for high voltage transmission lines for the Project. The Project will connect to the grid at a location interior to the Project Site.
The Project will interconnect to the electrical grid through the existing Spotsylvania Substation located adjacent to the central portion of the Project.
The only potential noise impacts associated with the Project would occur during construction. Noise would be generated from increase traffic and general construction activities at the Project Site. All construction activities will be within the Project Site footprint. Studies show that only neighboring parcels will experience noise impacts associated from pile-driving, which will be temporary and short-lived.
Current SUP conditions proposed by County Staff and the Planning Commission have been drafted with the goal of minimizing traffic impacts during construction. The conditions include, time of day restrictions for deliveries, ride-sharing requirements, and access restrictions.
Approximately 35 years.
The Project would be decommissioned and returned to its previous land use. A Decommissioning Plan is required for the Project and the applicant would be required to post financial surety for the removal of the facility and reclamation of the land.
Once construction is complete, the Project would begin operations. During operations, the Project would be operated and maintained by on-site staff and monitored remotely from sPower’s Salt Lake City control room.
Maintenance will consist of landscaping and equipment inspection and repair.
Yes. The Project Site will be fenced with inward facing, low-level motion detector security lighting at specific locations throughout the Project Site.
The project will not generate hazardous waste during construction. However, field equipment used during construction will contain various hazardous materials such as hydraulic oil, diesel fuel, grease, lubricants, solvents, adhesives, and other petroleum-based products contained in construction vehicles. In the event solar panels break during operations, the solar panels will be safely removed and returned to the manufacturer for proper disposal.
An Emergency Response Plan will be developed for the Project consistent with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Spotsylvania County requirements. All employees working on the Project during operations will be trained in emergency and shutdown procedures. Signs will be clearly marked at the Project Site for emergency vehicle ingress and egress. sPower will facilitate training for emergency providers to the specific hazards for the Project.
sPower has performed wetlands surveys in coordination with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Project is being designed to avoid impacts to wetlands and all panels and equipment will be located outside wetlands and preserve a minimum 100-foot buffer from wetlands. Temporary impacts to wetlands during construction would be limited and could include temporary road crossings for construction workers and vehicles. sPower will obtain all necessary permits from the
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prior to construction.
The Project will comply with local and state regulations pertaining to stormwater management and sediment control. sPower will work with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Spotsylvania County to ensure all construction and stormwater permits are current and active prior to construction. This includes approval of a Stormwater Management Plan and implementation of Best Management Practices such as detention ponds and replanting of native vegetation.
sPower hired an independent consulting firm to research and survey the existing wildlife and habitats within the Project Site. No threatened or endangered species were identified within the Project Site. sPower is coordinating with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to ensure the Project is compliant with local and state regulations.
Open spaces will be preserved at the Project Site during operations. The Project security fence will include sections that are wildlife friendly, allowing wildlife to safely navigate through the Project Site.
No. The Project will be designed to avoid impacts to civil war battlefields or other cultural and historical resources. sPower hired an independent consulting firm to research and survey the Project Site for cultural and historical resources. sPower is coordinating all cultural and historical surveys with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Final reports for cultural and historic surveys will be review and approved by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
sPower has committed to 100% use of municipal water and has abandoned all rights to well water. sPower is also committed to an public-private partnership with Spotsylvania County to help complete utility enhancements that have been planned for years. sPower does not anticipate needing water during operation of the Project as the natural precipitation in the area will more than suffice for panel washing.
Hunting will not be permitted inside or adjacent to the solar arrays.
It is expected the non-toxic herbicides may be used to limit growth to grasses and other low-lying vegetation around the solar panels. Implementation of herbicides will be in accordance with all DEQ regulations.
Potential health effects from exposure to electric fields from power lines is negligible because magnetic fields attenuate rapidly. The Project has relatively low voltage and amperage and electromagnetic fields attenuate to background levels in less than 20 to 30 feet, or within the setback from Project boundary. Even within the facility, voltage and amperage is similar to that in other neighborhoods that contain low and medium voltage distribution lines. Potential health effects from exposure to electric fields from the Project would be negligible.
About sPower: Sustainable Power Group (sPower) is an industry leading owner and operator of over 160 renewable energy projects. With new offices located in Spotsylvania County and Richmond, Virginia, our footprint and team continue to expand where energy resources are needed most. sPower portfolio consists of 13 gigawatts (GW) of development and operations assets across the United States and has generated nearly 4 billion kilowatt hours of carbon free electricity. For more information, visit www.spower.com