Community solar plans in Virginia were almost squashed after a town board vote in Lancaster. During the Dec. 21 meeting, the Lancaster Town Board voted 3-2 in favor of a community solar facility proposed for the Gunnville Road landfill. The board was split in the decision to move forward with the facility, with council members Adam Dickman and Robert Leary voting against the measure.
According to Leary, his vote was cast as he felt the community solar plans submitted by AC Power 14, LLC, had not been properly addressed. Lear voiced concerns that the public was not properly informed about the stipulations of the site and even council members lacked the proper information. In a statement, Leary stated that the vote was rushed and should have been tabled.
The approved plan was for a pair of ballasted community solar facilities on 197 acres of decommissioned landfill off Gunnville Road. Of that nearly 200 acres, AC Power 14 wished to use 40 acres for the bulk of the project, with an additional 15 reserved for the solar panels.
Councilman Dave Mazur felt that the project was in the planning stage for more than enough time. AC Power 14 initially proposed the plan earlier in 2020, allowing the Planning Board to review it for an ample amount of time. Town Board Supervisor Ronald Ruffino supported Mazur, stated it had undergone the necessary process. However, Leary didn’t recall any meetings regarding the site and went on to request a public hearing before approval. The point of the meeting would be to better inform the public about the scope of the project.
Despite Leary’s request, Town Board attorney Kevin Loftus confirmed the state required no public hearing. Leary persisted with his disapproval, pointing to potential errors in the resolution regarding the wattage. One such error stated “9,468 MW” was planned for the two parcels, but AC Power 14 corrected the misprint to the proper “9.468” megawatts before the vote occurred.
Before AC Power 14 can move forward with the new facility, it will need to acquire a special use permit, which will be preceded by a public hearing in January 2021.