DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. — On Virginia fields that were once the site of Civil War battles, another kind of battle is taking place. Some Dinwiddie County landowners are putting up a "Not In My Backyard" fight against Energix Renewables and its plan to build another solar farm in the county.
Landowner Holly Dance is one community member against the almost 1,900-acre solar farm proposal which would be adjacent to her house and farm.
One of her worries is what becomes of the land if the solar farm doesn't go as planned.
"My concern is the duration of the solar fields philosophy," Dance said. "It says the land can be reclaimed. I have not seen any place where that’s been done and the land has still proved to be fruitful."
“Underneath the posts, there will be grasses and pollinators, so the soil will still be used, and there will still be vegetation," Katie Hernandez, with Energix Renewables, said.
Lilly Pond Solar, the part of Energix Renewables operating in Virginia, has nine projects across the Commonwealth. Six of those projects are under construction.
When Dinwiddie supervisors vote on the project later this month, it will be the second time Energix Renewables went before the board. The first time, the Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors rejected the proposal.
This second proposal has been revised. Of the nearly 1,900 acres in question, less than 500 will be under panels.
“We were able to decrease the amount of prime farmland we use by 84 percent. The original proposal had 190 acres used and now only 30 acres of prime farmland will be used," Hernandez said. "Since the first proposal, we’ve doubled the setbacks. The county mandates 75-foot setbacks. We voluntarily expanded that to 150 feet."
Landowners who accept Lilly Pond Solar's offer will sign a 45-year private lease agreement.
The landowners will get paid, as will the county.
"Over the lifetime of the project, there will be $22 million going into the county’s budget," Hernandez said.
But at what cost asked those opposed to the plan.
"I’m afraid it’s going to damage the soil," Jeane Shell said about the land near the Reams Station battlefield. “What happens at the end of 45 years? Are those panels just going to be there?"
Despite having similar concerns, the County Planning Commission has recommended the board approval of the project.
The Dinwiddie County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on the solar farm proposal during a May 16 meeting.
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