State approves permit for $35 million solar project in Buckingham County
Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Thursday that the state has approved a permit for a new solar facility to be built by Firestone Solar LLC, a subsidiary of Virginia Solar.
The 19.8-megawatt project will be the first utility-scale solar generator of its kind in Buckingham County.
“This project is a significant step towards meeting Virginia’s renewable energy goals and is a harbinger of good things to come,” McAuliffe said in a statement.
Construction of the 200-acre facility is expected to begin early next year and to be completed by the end of 2017. Costs are estimated at between $30 and $35 million.
According to the governor's office the “permit by rule,” issued by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) includes provisions designed to protect the environment at the Buckingham site.
“DEQ is looking forward to issuing more of these renewable energy permits in the future. Our priority will be to take the steps necessary to protect Virginia’s environment while helping the Commonwealth become a leader in renewable energy production,” said DEQ Director David Paylor.
Matthew Meares of Virginia Solar said he hoped the Buckingham project would be the first of many such projects by Virginia Solar in the state.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a national trade organization based out of Washington, D.C., Virginia installed 10 megawatts of solar electric capacity in 2015, ranking it 30th nationally among the states. The organization said installed solar capacity in Virginia has grown by 72 percent since last year.
SEIA data shows that the 22 MW of solar energy currently installed in Virginia ranks the state 32nd in the country in installed solar capacity. There is enough solar energy installed in the state to power 2,200 homes.
During the next five years, Virginia is expected to install 1,091 megawatts of solar electric capacity, ranking the state 17th over that time span.