At its August meeting, the Augusta County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) approved two special use permits for the county’s first-ever solar projects generating power that goes back into the grid. Because both projects are under 50 acres, the permits were issued by the BZA, not the Board of Supervisors.
The two projects came after three months of public meetings and many months of work between the county’s planning staff and the developers in order to meet the BZA’s stated goals of making the county’s first solar projects ones that set a high standard of excellence. Both projects had already received the required determination by the Augusta County Planning Commission that they were in substantial accord with the county’s comprehensive plan as outlined in the recent update.
Both projects are also community shared solar projects meaning that Dominion Energy customers across the state can sign up to receive a share of the energy produced from the panels, thus allowing more residents to directly participate in the state’s renewable energy goals. We are pleased that both project representatives agreed that they would work with the local utility customers to give them the first opportunities to subscribe to the community solar project before offering the sign-on benefits to other Dominion customers across the state.
The first project, the Waynesboro Bridge Solar LLC, will be a 5-megawatt system at the intersection of Old White Bridge Road and Entry School road near Waynesboro in the Wayne District. The total parcel is 90 acres with approximately 50 acres under photovoltaic tracker panels. The property is in the Agricultural Conservation Area of the county’s comprehensive plan. This project could serve up to one thousand homes through the shared community benefits. (view the special use permit letter)
The second project is the Augusta CSG LLC project, a 3.88-megawatt off Long Meadow Road in Fishersville, also in the Wayne District. The total parcel is 50 acres with approximately 12 acres under solar panels that are fixed tilt (non-moving) around 8.5 feet tall. The property is in the Urban Service Area of the comp plan. It has the potential to serve up to 575 homes through shared community solar. (view the special use permit letter)
Each project includes more than 20 conditions that must be met before a permit is actually issued. Final landscaping plans, including buffering and fencing descriptions, maintenance agreements, wetland inventories and delineations, construction restrictions, topsoil removal restrictions, and a decommissioning plan and bond are among the conditions.