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Recurrent makes its case for solar project

This map shows the proposed project area that Recurrent Energy wants to develop in Ivor. — Submitted

IVOR

Recurrent Energy had returned to the municipal center of Ivor last Wednesday night to make another pitch for its Poplar Solar Project. The company wants to establish solar panels in approximately 1,000 acres, which could generate 100 MW of electricity. This area would be bordered by Highway 460 and Sadler, Booth, Ivor and Bell roads.

According to Kate Garcia, one of the reps present, when the project is built, it can be handed off to a power company. She acknowledged there is no buyer yet.

Recurrent is a subsidiary of Canadian Solar, which got started in 2001, and has offices in San Francisco and Northern California, as well as Austin, Texas. This is not Recurrent’s first time in the energy-producing business. According to its website, www.recurrentenergy.com, there are at least 50 other established solar farms in the country and Ontario. Closer to Virginia is the solar project in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, and is listed as being able to generate 102 MWP.

McCall Johnson, director of External Affairs at Recurrent Energy, said in an emailed statement, “We look forward to working with the Southampton community on the 100 MW Poplar solar project. We expect the project to create a significant number of new jobs as well as $8.6M in cumulative country revenue over the 35-year lifespan of the project.”

Trevor Swindell, another rep at the town hall, said he’s responsible for getting land contracts. In the case of Southampton, he said, “It was easy enough. I went to Google Earth and looked around.”

Area residents who attended the open house had some concerns and questions. Debbie Montgomery, for example, “I don’t think I like it, but I don’t have enough information to decide one way or another.”

She wondered about the long-term effect the panels would have on the land and water. Also, “I do not feel it [solar] is most efficient.”

Judy Dudash, who said she’s lived in the area for nine years, also said she’s concerned that the energy generated will not necessarily benefit Southampton County residents such as herself. Further, “What’s going to happen when it’s over?”

If Poplar Solar were to be built, it would have a lifespan of up to 35 years. Asked about what could happen then, another representative said the project could be rejuvenated or the land could be re-seeded. If decommissioning were to occur, then the company would have 90 days to clear away everything.

Chris Cornwell, the supervisor for the Berlin Ivor District, said of the company, “They’ve done their homework,” adding that he appreciated that representatives reached out to him.

On her Facebook page, “Keep Southampton Green,” Colleen Flick states, “Say “NO” to full scale solar utility facilities! There is so much wrong with it, I cannot even begin to write it all here! Come out to Ivor Municipal Center on Wednesday 1/29/20 at 6pm to 8pm and sign up to find out how to protest these facilities; which are destroying not just Southampton County, but all of Virginia. When will it stop? We moved here for the beauty and nature of the land, now this what is being proposed! 100 Mega Watt Facility on 1000 acres!”

Just a few feet away from the outside steps into the municipal center was Flickth with a fellow opponent. They had a display, “Keep Southampton Green,” which showed photos of the solar farms in Branchville and Boykins that are surrounded by chain link fence and barbed wire. The two were soliciting support for their opposition.