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Massive Virginia solar plant up and running

July 18, 2021 GMT

SPOTSYLVANIA, Va. (AP) — A massive Virginia solar plant that drew a flood of opposition when it was first proposed is now more than half completed and sending electricity into the power grid.

The first phases of the Spotsylvania Solar Center are generating 259 megawatts each day, providing power for some of the companies that bought the rights to the energy, the Free Lance-Star reported. Among them are Apple, Microsoft and the University of Richmond, which contracted to receive the electricity credits from the facility in rural western Spotsylvania County.

The remaining portion of the solar facility should be online by the fall, Helen Humphries, a spokeswoman for AES Corp., told the newspaper. The plant is on track to become one of the largest in the U.S., with about 1.8 million panels generating 484 megawatts a day.

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While many nearby residents were vocally opposed in 2018 and 2019 when the developer was seeking special-use permits, the newspaper reports there’s less talk now.

Sean Fogerty, one of the leaders of an opposition group of area residents, said time will tell whether concerns like impacts on home values, future decommissioning of the site and a “heat island” effect come to pass.

“This is a huge test case,” he said.