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340-megawatt solar energy project in Charles City County receives approval
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340-megawatt solar energy project in Charles City County receives approval

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Construction could start early next year on a 340-megawatt solar energy project planned for the western part of Charles City County.

The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to approve a special-use permit for the $415 million solar array project.

It would be built on 1,400 acres, with the largest parcel located near the intersection of state Route 106 and Wayside Road, and a smaller parcel to the north between state Route 106 and state Route 609.

The company is planning to put an additional 800 acres at the 2,200-acre site into conservation.

Supervisors voted 3-0 to approve the special-use permit.

The solar energy project would be operated by Sustainable Power Group, or sPower, a Utah-based company with solar and wind energy sites across the country.

The company still needs other approvals from the State Corporation Commission and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to build its so-called “Keydet” solar array .

Once the company receives approvals, construction should take about 18 months. The work is expected to employ more than 300 construction workers, with 15 to 20 full-time jobs at the solar farm after it is operational.

sPower is jointly owned by Arlington-based power company AES Corp. and Canada-based investment fund AIMCo.

The special-use permit for Charles City requires that the solar farm have a 100-foot vegetated buffer around the perimeter of the facilities, and 300-foot buffer where the site abuts state Route 106.

sPower also is planning a 500-megawatt solar power plant on a 6,300-acre site in rural western Spotsylvania County that would be the largest on the East Coast. That project, which has faced opposition from some local residents, is still pending local government approval.

The company said the solar facility would generate about $4.75 million in revenue for the county over 35 years.

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