Palladium Energy, together with Renewable Energy Services, is developing Moonlight Solar on approximately 523 acres in Isle of Wight County, Virginia. Moonlight Solar is a 44 MWac utility-scale solar PV facility and as proposed, will utilize bifacial solar modules mounted to a single-axis tracking racking system, which enables the panels to track the movement of the sun, optimizing energy production.
The land adjoining the proposed project site is largely undeveloped and the project will utilize existing and planted vegetation to screen the project from view. The generous setbacks and vegetative buffers will render the project virtually invisible to neighbors and vehicle traffic. Additionally, Moonlight Solar’s site plan incorporates wildlife corridors along streams and wetlands throughout the site to minimize impacts on animals and their movement patterns.
Moonlight Solar offers Isle of Wight County a unique economic development opportunity. The change in use will result in the property being reassessed at $15,000/acre, which when combined with the increased tax revenue from the capital investment (e.g., equipment) and other financial compensation via a negotiated siting agreement (Code of Virginia § 15.2-2316.7) represent a substantial economic benefit to Isle of Wight County. The renewable energy generated by Moonlight Solar will be delivered into the Dominion Energy’s electrical system as a source of clean, renewable, emission-free electricity for Virginia. Solar energy is one of the most cost-effective sources of electricity available today and helps reduce the cost of electricity to consumers.
Moonlight Solar commissioned Mangum Economics to perform an Economic Impact Assessment of Moonlight Solar and determine the project’s economic and fiscal contribution to Isle of Wight County. The Economic Impact Assessment evaluated two possible tax revenue scenarios and compared their estimated tax revenues to the tax revenues expected based on the current use (Agriculture) over the 40-year life of the facility. Scenario 1 assumed standard taxation of the capital investment and Scenario 2 assumes a Solar Revenue Share Ordinance replacing traditional taxation of machinery and equipment, should Isle of Wight County decide to adopt such an ordinance. A Solar Revenue Share Ordinance assumes a payment of $1,400/MW per year, increasing by 10% every five years. Both Scenario 1 and Scenario 2 include siting agreement payments totaling $1.1 million.
The Moonlight Solar project would generate approximately $5.4 million in cumulative county revenue over the facility’s anticipated 40-year operational life under Scenario 1 and approximately $6.1 million in cumulative county revenue over the facility’s anticipated 40-year operational life under Scenario 2, as compared to approximately $63,100 in cumulative county revenue in the property’s current agricultural use – nearly a 100x increase.
In addition to providing an increase to the county’s tax base, Moonlight Solar is poised to provide additional economic benefits to Isle of Wight County. The facility will take approximately one year to construct, and during that time, an estimated 175 construction workers will work on the facility. In addition to the construction labor, the extended construction schedule will foster significant spending in Isle of Wight County, and specifically, the Smithfield community. Moonlight Solar will work with Isle of Wight County’s Economic Development Office to ensure that local companies and labor pools have an opportunity to participate in the project, including, but not limited to:
Utility-scale solar is quiet, safe, hidden from view, has infrequent visitors, and preserves property values.
Moonlight Solar will be setback a minimum of 75 feet from roadways and property boundaries, with 125 feet from any residential parcels. The setback will contain a 50ft buffer of natural and planted vegetation to screen the project from view.
Moonlight Solar is actively pursuing local and state permits required to construct the project, including approvals from Isle of Wight County that consider critical input from the community.
Moonlight Solar has applied to connect to the Dominion Energy transmission system, the studies and analysis associated with this request equate to a multi-year process.
Current estimates place construction commencement for this project in 2027 and commercial operation in 2028
Solar panels, the main components of a solar farm, are not a new technology, they have been around for decades and have been tested extensively by regulators, universities, and manufacturers. This facility will not generate any chemical or toxic by-products; it will not threaten groundwater or surface water resources; it will not generate or spread disease or bacteria; and it will not create light or environmental noise that would disturb the emotional health of residents. The facility will be constructed to meet or exceed all standards of the National Electric Code, and significant testing has concluded that solar facilities, such as Moonlight Solar, create no harmful EMF, pose no risk of groundwater contamination, and pose no threat to public health or safety. The facility will be surrounded by a security fence to protect wildlife, the public, and the facility from unauthorized access. Moonlight Solar has commissioned a health and safety assessment which specifically addresses common concerns with the most up to date research.
Moonlight Solar, like other utility-scale solar facilities, will not adversely impact surrounding property values. Palladium engaged Kirkland Appraisals to perform a property value impact analysis on adjoining property values if Moonlight Solar is approved and constructed. The Moonlight Solar Impact Analysis report can be found below. In short, solar farms do not affect property values because they do not create odor, light, noise, traffic or emissions.
Solar energy is simply the conversion of sunlight into useable energy in the form of electricity. It is one of the main types of “renewable energy” and does not use fossil fuels.
A solar farm is a collection of ground-mounted solar panels on a parcel of land that allows the operator to efficiently use sunlight to produce renewable energy. By grouping panels together, more energy is produced at a lower cost than with other methods of energy production.
From an environmental perspective, it is just common sense to replace older, less efficient and non-renewable energy sources with state-of-the-art, clean renewable energy sources. New energy generation is required to replace old power plants such as coal as they retire due to end of life, environmental or economic pressures. Solar farms are able to provide clean energy below the costs of operating these older generation assets. From an economic perspective, it makes sense to replace more costly fuels like coal and oil with the free, natural sunlight which ultimately lowers the total energy costs for consumers. And from a land use perspective, cities and counties across the country are realizing that solar farms offer large tax benefits with far less impact on neighbors than a subdivision, industrial site or other type of land use.
Yes, Virginia is among the leaders in installed solar capacity, with the 9th most in America. The first phase of solar farm development placed most of them in the eastern part of the state, but the current trend is for State-wide development.
No, the facility fence line will be set back one hundred fifty (150) feet from adjoining properties and public right of ways and include one hundred (100) feet of vegetative buffer. The enclosed plan shows the location of the buffers. This plan will be submitted for approval by Greensville County. Additionally, unlike houses or other forms of traditional development, it will be completely dark and silent at night.
Yes. The project’s design will be approved by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to ensure all stormwater and sediment will be properly contained and the US Fish & Wildlife to ensure all threatened and endangered species are properly protected. Additionally, the project will comply with the Clean Water Act, protecting any wetlands on or near the site.
All major utility companies in the United States generate energy from “clean” sources that do not create toxic by-products (e.g., coal ash and air emissions). Sunlight is one of those clean sources. Dominion Energy owns many solar facilities, including several facilities in Greensville County. Additionally, large companies such as Amazon, Google, and Apple use solar energy to provide energy to their server facilities. Many other large companies like Bank of America, Walmart and GM have joined the “Renewable Energy 100” pledge to source 100% of their energy from renewables and use roof-mounted solar on some of their facilities.
Generally described, solar “panels” are placed onto steel frames (called “racks”) that are driven into the ground so that very little land is disturbed. These panels passively receive the sun’s light, which in turn causes electrons in the solar cells to move about. This movement generates a direct current that is converted at the site to alternating current before being transferred to the electrical grid. There are zero fumes, emissions, or by-products.
Yes. There are several mechanisms through which the County can tax solar. Greensville County currently utilizes a revenue sharing agreement, in which the solar farm pays an escalating fee per megawatt of the facility’s capacity every year. This predictable, consistent, and long-term source of revenue is typically a significant increase over each property’s existing taxes.
In addition to the tax revenue solar farms generate, the facility’s construction will bring over one hundred construction jobs and an influx of business into the area, including to hotels, restaurants, equipment rentals, fencing, fuel and waste services.
The energy will be purchased via long-term contract by Dominion Energy or other credit-worthy commercial and industrial customers through what is called a “power purchase agreement” (PPA). In the case of Dominion Energy, it will distribute the electricity to its customers, likely in the local area of Emporia. Based on its current design, Purdy Solar will produce enough electricity to power approximately 17,000 homes.
Practically all forms of real estate development (e.g., subdivisions, shopping centers, cell towers, and industrial parks) are owned by project-specific entities, referred to as project companies, to meet standard lending requirements.
Yes. Despite a variety of misinformation on the internet, solar farms are very safe. The EPA has extensively tested solar panels and concludes that they are completely safe. Another common question asked relates to the electromagnetic fields, or EMF, generated by the solar farm inverters. The amount of EMF exposure to a person on the outside of a solar farm is less than the person receives when inside his or her own home. For more information on this, or any other topic, please reach out directly. Third parties, such as the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University, have numerous resources on solar farms. One such paper can be found at https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/health-and-safety-impacts-of-solar-photovoltaics.
No. The inverters are the only components of a solar farm that produce a noise. When standing directly next to one you might hear a hum similar to an air conditioner. From outside the facility, they are impossible to hear over ambient noises created by wind, birds, background traffic, etc.
The average solar farm generates one or two vehicle trips per month, as contrasted with an average single-family home that generates 9.52 vehicle trips per day (Institute of Transportation Engineers, Trip Generation Manual, 9th ed.). One home (or a group of new homes, such as a new subdivision), on the other hand, would generate traffic and suburban noise in the form of lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and common noises created whenever people gather.
Solar farms do not emit any light and only operate during the day. There will be no lighting at night. Additionally, the facility produces no odors. In other words, you won’t be able to hear it, smell it, see it, or be aware of traffic generation.
Solar farms, because of their inherent size, can displace larger forms of wildlife like foxes, coyotes, and deer; however, the project has been designed to incorporate several wildlife corridors to allow larger animals to continue to traverse the area and utilize natural resources such as streams and wetlands. Underneath the panels, solar farms incorporate natural vegetation that covers approximately 98% of the site. Smaller animals have often been found to nest and live within the fence lines.
Hundreds of studies have been done in numerous states by certified and licensed appraisers using industry standard methods. Many of the studies have been audited by independent appraisers. These studies concluded that solar farms possess none of the characteristics that would cause harm to adjoining property values (noise, odor, light, traffic, etc.), and we are not aware of any studies that have found evidence of harm from existing facilities, including studies conducted across Virginia.
Solar farm construction will take approximately 9-12 months. A standard lease is 30 to 40 years. Once the solar farm is no longer needed, it will be decommissioned according to state statute. Practically, they are taken apart by lifting out the panels, pulling up the steel posts holding the frames, and removing any underground cable. Once the solar farm has been dismantled, the land can be returned to its natural state. In other words, unlike a subdivision, the land can easily be returned to agriculture. Virtually all parts of the facility are recyclable, being predominantly made of steel, aluminum, copper and silicon. All solar panels will be recycled as well. Additionally, the project will post a decommissioning bond or similar security (e.g., letter of credit) with Greensville County to ensure it is safely removed at the end of its useful life.
Purdy Solar will submit a Supplemental Use Permit application to Greensville County’s Planning & Zoning Department. The Planning & Zoning staff will generate a report and present their findings to the Greensville County Planning Board. The Greensville County Planning Board will hold a public meeting to accept public comments and will ultimately vote on a recommendation to approve or deny the Supplemental Use Permit application. The Planning Board will provide their recommendation to the Greensville County Board of Supervisors who will vote whether to approve or deny the Supplemental Use Permit application.