New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | June 27, 2022

Two proposed solar projects feel the burn, denied by New Kent Board of Supervisors

By Robb Johnson | June 14, 2022 11:52 pm

Two separate solar projects that were proposed for New Kent County failed to meet the satisfaction of county leaders.

New Kent supervisors denied approval on the Borrego Solar project and Chaberton Vision Energy proposal during Monday night’s regular board meeting.

During a March 30 work session, Borrego Solar representative Jessie Robinson approached the county on plans to construct a three-megawatt facility on 23 acres of land on Polish Town Road (Route 634). At that meeting, Robinson said that the project was in response to a mandate issued by the state and wouldn’t affect adjacent neighborhoods.

But at that work session, county leaders had questions about the project, referencing difficulty from working with a previously approved solar project in the county that have drawn concerns and controversy from nearby neighbors. Robinson responded that the project owner would be responsible, District 5 Supervisor John Lockwood had reservations about possible problems that could arise because of the proposal.

Those concerns lingered into the June regular month meeting. And while the county’s planning commission had a favorable recommendation on the project due to the possibility of increased local revenue, the questions asked by supervisors at the earlier meeting remained far from resolved.

District 4 Representative Ron Stiers expressed concern, saying that he worried about the amount of space the panels would occupy and that the land could be used to address current food shortages.

“We can’t eat panels if the land is taken up,” Stiers said, mentioning the project’s duration lasting 30 to 40 years. “New Kent County only has 210 square miles and you’re talking about using a parcel.

“It may not be crops there now, but you are taking valuable farmland that we could possibly need in the near future,” the District 4 supervisor continued. “I am talking about using it within the next five to ten years.”

Lockwood agreed with Stiers’ stance, proposing to deny the project and its construction. The non-favorable recommendation passed 4-1.

In the other solar matter, Chaberton Vision Energy presented a project that could possibly save money to customers. Project Vinson was presented to county leaders
as a way for customers who utilize solar from the facility to receive a monthly credit. According to the presentation, the savings are available to those who can accommodate solar, renters of those type of homes, or those who may have restrictions on their homes. In turn, the project would increase the grid’s reliability.

But that parcel of land covered 252 acres, something that did not impress the board for what they considered very little savings or benefit to the citizens. District 3 Supervisor Patricia Paige motioned to deny the project, which passed unanimously 5-0.

In one final action, a motion to rescind operating hours at New Kent County’s Recycling Center passed.

At the April work session, a motion was made to limit hours at the facility in July as a test to see if it would save money and help the taxpayers. That motion passed, but immediate backlash from county citizens forced the board of supervisors to speak about it at Monday night’s meeting. After conferring, the board rescinded its original vote 4-1, restoring the operating hours as they previously were to the recycling center.