Last pieces of mega Spotsylvania solar project approved

A massive proposed solar development on this timberland property in Spotylsvania County has drawn major opposition from locals. (Sarah Vogelsong/ For the Virginia Mercury)

The Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors has approved the final permits for what will be the largest solar facility in Virginia and among the biggest in the nation.

“I feel confident the Board of Supervisors has addressed all the issues involving this project and that it is safe,” said Supervisor Greg Benton in a statement provided by sPower, the company behind the project. “I believe ultimately this project will be very beneficial to Spotsylvania County and look forward to seeing the sPower project come to fruition and being a success. This is going to be a long-term partnership for both sPower and Spotsylvania County and will hopefully be prosperous and beneficial for us both.”

The board issued a special use permit for the largest piece of the project last week.

The 500-megawatt solar farm, spread out over 6,350 acres of logging land, had been the target of a group of residents from a nearby gated community who feared the solar panels would drive down property values, create a “heat island” effect and pose contamination risks from the components of the panels, among other objections. The company, environmental groups and an independent expert said those fears were largely unfounded.

Microsoft, Apple, the University of Richmond and other entities will buy electricity generated by the project through power purchase agreements. The facility is scheduled to be built in phases over the next two years.