In his final motion as a member of the board, Rockingham County Supervisor Brent Trumbo moved to once again table a special-use permit request for a solar farm near New Market.
The rest of the board agreed unanimously.
The proposed solar farm was brought back for discussion during Wednesday’s board meeting. Several county residents that spoke during the solar farm’s public hearing in September were in attendance.
“We need to get this right,” Trumbo said.
With no action taken on the special-use permit, supervisors agreed to have a committee formed to further discuss how the county will address future solar farm proposals and possibly create solar ordinances.
Chairman Bill Kyger said it’s unclear what the makeup of the committee would look like, but said there needs to be an assortment of interest groups involved.
As the outgoing District 1 Supervisor, Trumbo was appointed by Kyger to serve as a citizen representative on the committee.
The development that will ultimately shape how the county addresses future solar farm proposals came from Caden Energix Endless Caverns LLC, which sought to build a solar farm on property southwest of Craney Island and Mountain Valley Road south of New Market.
The solar farm would be approximately 323.6 acres with nearly 95,000 solar panels. The generated amount of electricity from the solar farm would be able to power roughly 6,500 homes for one year.
The proposed location is adjacent to the Dominion Power Endless Caverns substation, which would connect to the solar farm. David Richards, director of project development for Energix Group, said in September that anyone using Dominion Power would be connected to energy created from the solar farm.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Trumbo said the location of the solar farm to the power grid was “as good as it gets,” adding the property location was ideal.
Trumbo did express concerns over the solar farm proposal regarding how the county should dictate where solar industries should be placed, as well as the need for the board to differentiate what is truly prime agricultural land.
“I have spent countless hours reviewing this special-use permit,” he said.
In response to Trumbo’s concerns, Supervisor Sallie Wolfe-Garrison said one of the points she kept coming back to was the idea of forfeiting agricultural land.
“We have to remember our obligation to the county as a whole,” she said. “We need to control this as much as we can and we have time to do so.”
Supervisor Mike Breeden agreed with Trumbo’s opinions and said there was “no doubt” the county will need an alternative form of energy, but the board needs to make sure it approaches the subject in the right way.
Supervisor Rick Chandler said the board was appreciative of the information it received over the last two months.
With the board’s approval to table the request, Kyger said new ordinances could be proposed regarding the use of solar power early next year.
“We need to be diligent and somewhat urgent over the fact of backlist waiting that comes with this,” he said.