Gov. McAuliffe Announces Another Utility-Scale Solar Project

About a week after announcing a utility-scale solar project in Virginia’s Buckingham County, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, D-Va., has unveiled another large solar project in Northampton County.

According to a press release from the governor’s office, Hecate Energy LLC has received a permit for the 20 MW Cherrydale Project in Cape Charles, Northampton County. Once completed, the solar facility will provide enough energy to power over 3,000 households throughout the region.

“This project builds on important investments we are making in the solar industry across Virginia,” says McAuliffe. “Investing in clean, renewable power sources will continue to cut carbon emissions and increase energy security throughout the commonwealth. This is a significant step forward for the Eastern Shore, and I look forward to continuing to work with businesses and Virginians to expand access to clean energy sources, improve environmental stewardship, and grow the new Virginia economy.”

The release says construction of the approximately 185-acre facility will utilize a tracking system that maximizes energy output with the efficient use of available sunlight. The facility will interconnect with the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative and A&N Electric Cooperative system. The “permit by rule,” issued by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, contains provisions to ensure the environment is protected at the Cape Charles site.

Preston Schultz of Hecate Energy LLC comments, “In my opinion, the Commonwealth of Virginia permit-by-rule process strikes the right balance between protecting critical local environmental, cultural and historical resources while at the same time providing opportunities for the new clean energy economy to take root and flourish in the Old Dominion.”


  1. Can Virginia once again lead the country?

    Dominion Power has 6500 miles of Right-Of-Way (ROW) for High-Voltage Transmission lines (HVTL) in Virginia. If a program to use these ROWs for solar farms were implemented there could be 40 to 50MW generation potential enough for 6000 homes. If Dominion has one third of the HVTLs in Virginia another 12000 homes could be powered if all ROWs were used for a total of 18,000 homes or 120 to 150MW of potential solar power.

    For the right to use ROWs for solar farms the property owners can be required to maintain the vegetation allowing full exposure to day light. Many parcels are in rural areas where livestock has been used for vegetation control for millennia. These parcels can also be used for 10ft or shorter agricultural produce so long as permission is obtained from the utilities.

    The utilities can save millions of dollars in vegetation control nor will there be a need to lease the ROWs, another cost savings over leasing roof tops of buildings. Property owners will benefit from reduced electrical costs by selling excess power back to the utilizes a program that already exists. The Utilities, property owners and Virginia can all reduce implementation costs by leveraging existing federal incentive programs.


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