Charlotte County approves Va.’s largest solar farm
The largest solar project in Charlotte County — and Virginia, according to Dominion Energy Inc. — was approved by the county’s Board of Supervisors in July.
Reston-based utility-scale solar developer SolUnesco LLC received a conditional-use permit to build the $800 million to $1.6 billion Randolph Solar project in the southern part of the county. SolUnesco plans to sell the solar farm to Dominion, which would construct and operate the facility. It is expected to generate 800 megawatts — enough energy to power 200,000 homes. Dominion hopes to break ground in 2025 and bring the project online in 2027.
SolUnesco signed agreements with more than 150 landowners who collectively own more than 1,000 parcels that make up the site of the planned solar farm. About 4,500 of the 21,000 acres will be fenced in, surrounding the solar panels and equipment, which will sit on roughly 3,000 acres.
The project was a topic of debate in Charlotte for the past year. SolUnesco submitted the application for the project in June 2021 and spent the next year working with county officials to make the project more acceptable.
SolUnesco has received approval for seven other solar projects, all of which have been sold to energy companies, including Dominion, which acquired three of the properties. Two of the seven projects SolUnesco previously sold are already operating in Henry and Greensville counties, generating 20 megawatts and 60 megawatts, respectively. The five other solar farms are in various stages of development in Albemarle, Charlotte, Gloucester, Mecklenburg and Orange counties.
Over Randolph Solar’s 35-year lifespan, Charlotte County will receive about $314 million in payments and fees associated with the project, according to County Administrator Daniel Witt. It’s a sizeable amount for a county with a typical annual budget range of $26 million to $38 million, excluding public schools funding.
Randolph Solar won’t be the first solar project in Charlotte. Twitty’s Creek Solar, a 134-acre, 15-megawatt project, has been operating since December 2020. Developed by Holocene Clean Energy, Twitty’s Creek is owned by Alchemy Renewable Energy. Another Holocene project, the 105-acre, 5-megawatt Red House Solar, became operational this summer.
Charlotte has approved three more projects: Moody Creek Solar, a 1,653-acre, 150-megawatt project from SolUnesco; Courthouse Solar, a 1,318-acre, 167-megawatt solar farm; and Tall Pines Solar, a 240-megawatt, 2,086-acre project.