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Spotsylvania Co. residents voice concerns over massive solar facility plan

WASHINGTON — Residents of Spotsylvania County lined up on Tuesday to tell the board of supervisors what they think of plans to build one of the nation’s largest solar power plants in the western part of the county.

Charles Payne, a lawyer representing sPower — the company that hopes to build the project told the board the project would benefit the county.

“This is a new industry being introduced to Spotsylvania County,” Payne said. “This is a unique opportunity for the county and the Commonwealth to have a facility of this nature.”

But some residents who live near the site of the planned solar farm are opposing it.

“Nobody knows the health risks of this thing and who’s going to be responsible for the health effects on the people who live around these,” said Michael O’Beer who said he lived near “ground zero” of the project.

“It looks good on the outside but when you dig deeper, boy there are lots of questions that have not been answered,” said Rose Ann Rainville, who lives in the Livingston district where the solar facility would be constructed.

The project has its supporters.

“Renewable energy, such as solar power, is the future of energy production in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Chris West, executive director of Conservatives for Clean Energy for Virginia.

Some residents worry about the project’s impact on the historic character of Spotsylvania County. Others expressed concern about the disruption from construction.

A representative from Microsoft, which manages major data centers in Virginia, including the facility in Ashburn, told the board that the tech giant needs the power that the solar facility would generate.

“When we started operations maybe power wasn’t as much part of the focus, but today it is one of the key criteria when we look at how we’re going to grow in the future.”

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