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Some Localities in Virginia Throwing Shade at Solar Projects

Brazil Solar
Bruna Prado/AP
Solar panels

The future’s so bright for solar energy, some local governments want to put on shades. Many planning commissions and county supervisors across Virginia are considering restrictions on solar panels.

Some local governments are considering limiting solar panels to two-percent of the land in their counties. Others are considering limiting individual solar projects to 100 acres or 200 acres.

Kristen Jackson of Augusta County told her local planning commission earlier this year that a proposed solar project would destroy her views.

"We specifically refused to look at properties with obstructed views," Jackson said. "We told our realtor our number one priority was a view. I wouldn't have purchased this property, if that was my purpose if I wanted a view number one; first and foremost. So I feel like it does impact your property value because I wouldn't buy a property with that in my backyard."

Ron Butler with Conservatives for Clean Energy says these projects can bring income to farmers and revenue to schools. He says land owners should be able to put solar panels on their property, and they shouldn't be held back because somebody doesn't like the way they look.

"That's typically what we hear is, 'Oh, I don’t like the way they look.’ Or, ‘Oh, I like the viewshed,'" Butler explains. "And that's never been a reason to deny a project in the past, especially one that doesn't pollute and that has all these positive benefits."

He says about a dozen local governments have already taken action restricting what land owners can do with their property, and he says about a dozen more are currently considering taking similar steps.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.