The Courier-Record

SMELL TEST? ‘I SAY IT STINKS’

Solar skeptic challenges claims made to Supervisors
COUNTY NOW CONSIDERING SMALLER AREA
DICKY INGRAM “Leave my county alone”

DICKY INGRAM “Leave my county alone”

Nottoway County, which continues its 2019 ban on industrial solar farms, is studying a “concept” proposal that would allow permitted projects in about 13% of the county’s land mass, or 40 of the county’s 316 square miles.

County Planner Gregg Zody told Supervisors last Thursday night that the Planning Commission hopes to incorporate key aspects of a proposed “Renewable Energy Ordinance” into the Comprehensive Plan, which is being updated for the first time since 2006. Zody said the updated Plan likely would be presented to the Board in October or November.

Zody said the revised concept is to allow solar farms, as a Use by Special Exception — within one mile of both side of two main transmission lines running through the county. Those lines generally run north-south down Rt. 49 South (The Falls Road) and east-west along Norfolk Southern railroad tracks.

Zody’s update followed remarks at the start of Thursday’s meetings by solar opponent and retired educator Dicky Ingram.

Referring to remarks made in May by pro-solar speakers, “Not one person spoke about the environment, quality of life, protection of resources — they all spoke about money — ‘we want money.’”

Ingram noted that one speaker, from Chesterfield, is a lobbyist for Virginia Land & Liberty. “I tried to get those people to tell me where they get their money because I know that guy’s not working for free. They never would answer me.”

So Ingram said he researched the organization, which he said describes itself as a “‘coalition of farmers, landowners, and other interested parties.’ Well those ‘other interested parties’ are solar companies and Dominion. That’s who they are.”

Ingram didn’t name another May speaker but clearly was referring to attorney Robert Hawthorne, Jr. of Lunen- burg. “I’ve seen him at every meeting that dealt with solar, he comes in and sits next to a representative of a solar company. And every meeting, he gets up and says, ‘Nottoway County is being left behind.’ He doesn’t live in Nottoway. County but says, ‘We’ are being left behind.”

Ingram urged officials to reject the attorney’s claim that “other counties are sopping up the economic windfall” of solar farms.

Ingram offered, “Ask Charlotte County and Mecklenburg County about that. They might have a different opinion — not their boards — but their citizens.”

Ingram said the attorney’s claim that solar energy passes the five-sense test also isn’t entirely accurate. “I know y’all have ridden by solar farms, and you can certainly SEE them. Forty panels make as much hum as a refrigerator. So think about how much that would be,” Ingram said, if 400,000 panels were to be installed as has been proposed on a 700-acre site six miles SW of Nottoway Courthouse.

Ingram offered his own sensory assessment of solar. “I say it stinks. Because it ruins rural areas.”

Ingram said potential revenue numbers for Nottoway County from one proposed solar site keep fluctuating — depending on who’s speaking.

He first heard $20 million over 20 years, then later heard $14 million. Ingram said that –adjusted for depreciation — $20 million translates to only $300,000 in buying power.

Ingram also said he’s discovered that in a typical year, Nottoway County has sunshine about 208 days out of 365. “So that means for about 160 days a year, we don’t have sun. Our solar efficiency is about 22-23%.

Ingram said he meant to tell a solar rep — but didn’t get the opportunity at a meeting two months ago — “Leave my county alone. I’ve been living and working in this county all my life. All the solar companies care about is money. They do their damage and leave. But I have to stay here for the rest of my life.

“The gentleman from Dominion said they need solar. Sure they do — because they sold all their natural gas resources.

“How does Dominion benefit? Well, they raise your rates to pay for it. And then they get tax breaks and subsidies from the government. So think about that.”

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