Hundreds pack into Spotsylvania meeting on solar project; supervisors delay decision

Hundreds pack into Spotsylvania meeting on solar project; supervisors delay decision
Opponents and supporters (but mostly opponents) packed into a marathon meeting of the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors Tuesday night on a proposed solar project that would be the biggest in the eastern U.S. if approved. (Sarah Vogelsong/ Virginia Mercury)

After a marathon nine-hour meeting at which more than 100 people spoke, the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors delayed a decision on whether a massive solar facility will be built in the western part of the county.

Just before 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, the board voted to continue its discussion of all three sites involved in the project until its next meeting, scheduled for March 12. Questions from supervisors about whether they would be able to continue deliberations through their second March meeting indicate that even after more than a year of development, the project still faces an uncertain fate.

As the hearings drew to a close, Ryan Creamer, CEO of sPower, the solar developer and operator behind the plans, expressed surprise at the level of scrutiny and interest the solar project, generally seen as a passive land use, was receiving.

“I’ve never seen this before,” he said.

Of the hundreds who filled Spotsylvania High School’s 1,300-capacity auditorium for the hearings Tuesday night, the majority openly opposed sPower’s plans, a stance signaled by their red shirts and sweaters. While supporters of the project, clad in green shirts supplied by sPower and emblazoned with the slogan “Spotsylvania for Solar,” were also present, they were outnumbered.

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.