The below video is intended to inform the public and applicants of the solar application process in Louisa County.
Applicant Rights & Public Involvement
Signed into law in 2020, the Virginia Clean Economy Act:
- Establishes solar and onshore wind is “in the public interest”
- Requires Dominion Energy Virginia to be 100% carbon-free by 2045
As such, electric service providers must meet new state requirements in addition to other governing carbon reduction goals. Due to the County's electrical infrastructure and geography, electric service providers see Louisa as a desirable location for their solar projects. We, Louisa County, are responsible for shepherding these companies through the application process.
A neighborhood meeting and two public hearings are required steps in the application process. These important steps allow the community to interact with the applicant, County staff, and appointed/elected officials.
While it is our responsibility to consider solar projects, please note not all applicants will receive approval for conditional use permits. Our Solar Committee and Board of Supervisors will consider public input and evaluate the applicant's ability to meet the County's requirements which were designed to protect surrounding areas.
Benefits that Solar Projects Represent
The tax revenue would support community needs without adding more residents or businesses, allowing for the preservation of Louisa's rural character. Plus, by providing power to the regional grid, solar projects reduce carbon emissions. The energy collected can be shared with homes and businesses that would normally not be able to benefit from solar power.
Varying project to project, additional benefits include contributions from the applicant to support projects to benefit our community like:
- Monetary contributions to Louisa County Broadband Deployment
- Funding the purchases of a fire tanker apparatus, a mobile breathing air (SCBA) refill station, six thermal imagining cameras or other Fire and Emergency medical equipment
- Contribution to an academic scholarship to be administered by the Louisa chapter of the NAACP, no. 7085
How Louisa is Working to Improve Implementations
We've established 31 required conditions that address the concerns of citizens recorded through the public hearing process over the last two years. Some of the required conditions allow Louisa County to establish provisions that go above and beyond requirements of state agencies, such as the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). In 2021:
- Louisa County placed limits on the amount of land that can be cleared and disturbed at any one point in a solar project. This is done to help prevent erosion issues from large rain events during construction. The phasing is unique to each project.
- We began requiring pollinators to help bees, butterflies, and other small animals with ecosystem sustainment and production of natural resources. Solar projects are required to have 10% of the total project acreage planted in pollinator vegetation, conforming with the DCR's pollinators program.
- Louisa County's provisions largely keep the projects out of sight. All solar projects are required to have a 150ft vegetative screening buffer that starts at the property line.
Current Projects & Updates
To further understand what Louisa County is requiring of new solar project applicants, please see two examples of conditional site permit approval letters:
The project map below does not include solar projects still in the application process.
The County continues to consider methods to improve project conditions. Please click the image below summarizing the Solar Committee's recommendations for 2022 to see the draft ordinance. Prior to any ordinance changes, the County will hold public hearings.
Follow LouisaCounty.com for more, including upcoming meeting information. Contact Community Development with questions at CommunityDevelopment@louisa.org or 540-967-3430.