Following over three hours of discussion in early February, the Augusta County Planning Commission voted 4-3 against recommending to the Augusta County Board of Supervisors that the Round Hill Solar Project, an 880-acre, 83 megawatt energy system, was in “substantial accord” with the county’s comprehensive plan.
Augusta County residents, many of whom lived on parcels of land in close proximity to the project, packed into the government center to voice their views on the proposed project. The Alliance’s Nancy Sorrells spoke in favor of the project. Although the project will take land out of agricultural production for 35 years, once the arrays are constructed, there will actually be less erosion and water quality impacts from this particular piece of land due to its soil type. Also, the developers plan to replant with natives and pollinators and gain certification under the Virginia Pollinator Smart Program for solar projects. Additionally, once the project’s lifespan is complete, there will be the possibility of the land returning to agriculture use.
Although the Planning Commission’s consideration regarding the project’s compliance with the comprehensive plan was one step in the application process, the actual approval or denial of the large scale energy system will come during a public hearing before the Augusta County Board of Supervisors. The decision on whether or not to issue a special use permit for the project ultimately rests with the supervisors.