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Largest solar farm in Virginia clears important hurdle
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Largest solar farm in Virginia clears important hurdle

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A solar farm in Virginia.

A massive solar farm proposed in western Spotsylvania County has cleared one hurdle, but it has a few others remaining.

In a filing Wednesday, the State Corporation Commission signed off on Utah-based Sustainable Power Group’s Pleinmont Solar LLC proposal to build an outdoor facility with 1.8 million solar panels.

Microsoft Corp. plans to buy a significant amount of the energy produced from the planned solar power project, which is expected to be the largest solar farm in Virginia and one of the largest on the East Coast.

In giving its conditional approval, the commissioners stated that the company bears the risk and must abide by regulations, which include paying for system upgrades to avoid potential impacts to rate-payers and adhering to environmental oversight.

Sustainable Power Group, also known as sPower, hopes to have the first phase of the solar-generating plant running by next June, according to documents filed with the state. But the proposal first has to meet several requirements.

The project needed the SCC certificate to move forward with its plans. It still must secure a special-use permit from the county.

The Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors has the final say and can require the company to meet certain stipulations, such as lessening the environmental impact. It must hold a public hearing on the special-use permit.

The 500-megawatt solar facility would be built in phases, eventually taking up a total of about 3,500 acres on the 6,000-plus-acre site.

The energy produced by the solar facility would be sold to companies outside Spotsylvania.

In the SCC approval, the commissioners noted that the project should benefit the county by bringing in short- and long-term jobs and producing tax revenue.

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