DEQ grants permits for solar projects in Orange, Halifax counties

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RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Three new solar projects that will produce power for thousands of homes have received permits for construction and operation.

Governor Ralph Northam announced on Wednesday that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality issued the permits for three solar projects in Halifax and Orange counties.

According to a release, the projects are expected to generate more than 200 megawatts of power combined, which is enough to power more than 25,000 homes.

"These projects represent a new phase in energy development in Virginia, one that is focused on renewable energy technologies and diverse energy resources," said Northam. "The acceleration of solar development across Virginia is attracting new opportunities for employment and investment in renewable energy, and we are committed to growing and expanding this key industry to ensure that families, businesses and communities can continue to thrive in every corner of our Commonwealth."

The project in Orange County, called Sol Madison Solar, will be a 62.5 MW facility developed by Cypress Creek Renewables.

The other projects are in Halifax County, with one being an 80 MW development by Cypress Creek Renewables and the other a 70 MW project developed by Carolina Solar.

The release says these projects are anticipated to offset the generation of about 345,598,101 pounds of carbon dioxide, 246,587 pounds of nitrogen oxides, and 283,928 pounds of sulfur dioxide that are otherwise produced by fossil fuel-based electricity generation. All of these pollutants and others contribute to climate change and smog.

Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Bell says these projects will create new jobs and business opportunities, which will spur economic growth and help protect the environment.

In the last five years, there has been a dramatic increase in solar facility capacity across Virginia, from just 17 MW to 2014 to more than 350 MW in 2019.

The DEQ provides guidance for solar project applicants on pre-construction natural resource analysis, mitigation plans, post-construction monitoring, and more. That information and more is available at the link in the Related Links box.

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