The never-ending saga of the 500 MW Spotsylvania County solar project has added another chapter, and this one on a more positive note. sPower has partnered with a local branch of The Community Foundation to begin to distribute $25 million throughout the county, as promised during the approval process for the facility.
As should be expected, the $25 million will not be paid as an upfront lump sum. Instead, according to a representative for sPower, the money will go into a fund set to operate in perpetuity. To achieve the lofty goal of perpetuity, sPower plans to deposit $250,000 post-haste, with the goal of having $1 million in the fund by the end of the year. Following those initial commitments, the company will add at least another $6.5 million by 2021, with a realistic outlook of the fund totaling $10 million by the end of 2021.
As for the use of all that cash, the money will be put towards public ventures, meaning additional funds for the county’s schools, public safety and parks, as well as the reality that some funds will go towards renewable energy programs.
For sPower, this investment in the community also serves to improve the company’s standing in said community, a standing which has not always been the most positive. As was alluded to earlier, the relationship between sPower and Spotsylvania has been rocky in the past, to say the least.
In January over 500 people turned out to a vote which led to the recommended denial of two applications representing 470 MW, or 94% of the project’s planned capacity. The project, however was eventually approved in full. The consensus of the county’s residents came to be that the scope of the project was too large for such a populated area, and that the forest clear-cutting associated with the project was counterintuitive to its green goals.
This commitment by sPower could prove to pay dividends for sPower’s standing in the Spotsylvania community. It shows the company has a vested interest in the health of the county outside of it being the location of a project. This is key, as public perception is a powerful tool in the solar world. If sPower wants to develop projects in the county moving forward, it doesn’t hurt to be in the good graces of its new neighbors.