The first 259 MW of the behemoth and much-maligned 485 MW Spotsylvania solar project, developed by AES, have reached commercial operation.
Spotsylvania gained national attention in 2019, not only for being the largest solar installation east of the Rocky Mountains, but because of the staunch opposition it faced locally. Some opposition to the project came from long-discarded arguments relating to the potential leakage toxicity of First Solar’s cadmium telluride PV modules.
These concerns were vocalized in large part by “Concerned Citizens of Spotsylvania County” a “citizens group” which used language and arguments directly copied from other groups and websites that are funded by the coal industry, like the Heritage Foundation, Taxpayer Protection Alliance, SolarSecrets.org, etc.
A more sincere objection was made directly by Spotsylvania citizens, who questioned the project’s scope. These concerns were addressed when county supervisors voted to cap the project at 500 MW, quelling fears that the massive project would end up even bigger than initially planned.
Regardless of the arguments, Spotsylvania Solar is here, at least in part, and the remaining portion of the solar facility is expected to be online by the fall. The project has power purchase agreements in place to sell the energy generated to Apple, Microsoft and the University of Richmond.
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