Route 460 solar farm approved to increase output

Published 12:43 pm Monday, January 1, 2024

A 637-acre solar farm slated to straddle Route 460 between Windsor and Zuni will generate 28% more electricity than expected, bringing an extra $1.7 million in revenue to Isle of Wight County over the project’s 40-year lifespan.

County supervisors voted 3-2 on Dec. 14 to approve an amendment to the conditional use permit they’d granted Carver Solar in August. The amendment specifies Carver is to generate 91 megawatts, up from the 71-megawatt capacity originally listed.

Mike Volpe, senior vice president of Texas-based project developer Open Roads Renewables, had estimated as of last year that the 71-megawatt project would push the carrying capacity of the electric grid in the area to its maximum. But according to Carver’s latest application, PJM – a multi-state electric transmission organization that has an interconnection agreement with Carver – has identified roughly 20 megawatts of additional carrying capacity.

Volpe told the supervisors on Dec. 14 that Carver would be able to increase its capacity to 91 megawatts without needing more acreage.

The company has further offered to pay the greater of either machinery and tools taxes or a $1,400 per megawatt annual payment in lieu of M&T taxes, which is now projected to bring in an additional $1 million based on the 91-megawatt capacity. Per an updated siting agreement, Carver has agreed to pay an additional $715,500 over 20 years in voluntary annual payments.

The siting agreement had originally specified payments of $127,000 per year but now specifies $162,775 based on 91 megawatts.

Supervisors Joel Acree and Don Rosie, who each voted against Carver in August, did so again on Dec. 14 motions by Supervisors Rudolph Jefferson and Dick Grice to approve the amended conditional use permit and siting agreement. Board of Supervisors Chairman William McCarty joined Grice and Jefferson in supporting the amended permit and siting agreement.