SCC Hearing Delayed, Supervisors Approve Comp Plan Amendment, Status of State Senator's Solar Power Accountability ACT
The State Corporation Commission (SCC) hearing scheduled for the western Spotsylvania solar project was postponed until July 12th at the request of the applicant, Utah-based Sustainable Power Group LLC. The applicant stated they needed additional time to complete a revised site plan, presumably to address concerns presented over the last few months by Spotsy citizens. It’s worth mentioning, if the SCC approves Sustainable Power Group LLC’s application, the Spotsylvania Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors will still hold hearings to review the project for compliance with the Spotsylvania Comprehensive Plan, County Ordinances, and Federal and State laws.
Separately, on May 22nd, the Board of Supervisors strengthened its ability to review future renewable energy projects with a 7-0 vote to approve a Comprehensive Plan amendment. The amendment, which included only 3 sentences, generally stated any renewable energy project should mitigate potential environmental or community impacts. In April, this amendment failed 3-4 (Supervisors McLaughlin Ross, Skinner, Trampe) and was later tabled to acquire more information. The amendment language did not change and after the May 22nd discussion it is still unclear what new information the supervisors received to get unanimous support the second time. The Planning Department staff remained steadfast that the amendment provides the County with firmer ground to ensure future renewable energy projects mitigate their impacts.
Several residents have expressed some desire to make the amendment language more specific. However, the Comprehensive Plan is inherently vague and is supplemented with more specific policies or county ordinances, which provide more guidance and restrictions. To make this amendment more specific could have hurt the Board of Supervisors by giving the impression the new language was specifically targeting the S-Power application. In reality, the Planning Deptment has been working on this amendment prior to S-Power application submission.
Lastly, State Senator Bryce Reeves’ Solar Power Accountability Act continues to be discussed in the Senate and the House of Delegates have, what Reeves told the Free Lance Star, approved a radically different version. Reeves told the Free Lance-Star he would bring an amendment to the Senate floor if the current process was unsuccessful.