Project Footprint

The total project footprint includes 300 parcels optioned by 146 landowners, totaling 21,071 acres. However, the project footprint is an area much larger than what will actually be used for solar equipment. 

Ultimately, 85% of the project footprint will be acres that sit outside any of the fence line. This includes about 14 optioned parcels representing 874 acres that will not be part of the Project, and up to 6,850 acres that will be preserved as forested areas and wildlife corridors.  

Kimley-Horn’s environmental, cultural, and historical analyses forecast that the solar facility will utilize 3,050 acres inside the fence-line, a 55% reduction from the layout submitted July 23, 2021 (previously 6,800 acres). 

Keeping in Accord with the Charlotte County Comprehensive Plan 

We’ve taken great care to ensure that Randolph Solar supports Charlotte County’s vision, values, and livability goals, as outlined in the Charlotte County Comprehensive Plan. 

On September 28, 2021, the Charlotte County’s Planning Commission reviewed the Randolph Solar Conditional Use Permit Application and determined that the Project was “substantially in accord with the Charlotte County’s Comprehensive Plan.” 

Randolph Solar allows the County to promote and enable alternative energy production while also meeting its goals relating to natural resource management and economic growth. Additionally, the project will deliver economic opportunities (both tax revenues and direct spending/hiring) to the citizens of Charlotte County without being a burden on county resources.   

Unlike most forms of land development, Randolph Solar does not require establishing or maintaining utilities or roads, nor does it tap other resources such as law enforcement or schools. 

Additionally, Randolph Solar helps the County “expand the responsible use of existing agricultural, forestry, mineral, and natural resources and products” by “promot[ing] appropriate land and natural resource use throughout the county” (Comprehensive Plan, page 74). Sunlight is a natural resource freely available to the County, and through projects like Randolph Solar, sunlight can be utilized with far less impact than other resource cultivation requires.  

In fact, by embracing renewable technology in place of conventional energy generation, Charlotte County will be improving its natural resources and progress in its goal of “preserv[ing] county air quality” (Comprehensive Plan, page 75).  

The CP also calls for participation in “programs to preserve and protect productive agriculture and forestry lands” (Comprehensive Plan, page 102). Randolph Solar should be considered a temporary and reversible development, easily dismantled and removed at the end of the project’s lifetime.   

In this way, the Project can be viewed as a preservation measure, protecting against many other more permanent forms of development that may seek to utilize this land. 

Finally, a primary goal of the Comprehensive Plan is to grow the economy. “Attracting new businesses and expanding existing ones in order to provide local job opportunities is a major focus of the County’s Board of Supervisors” (Comprehensive Plan, page 63). Solar development suits this economic strategy well, as solar energy is among the fastest growing industries in the nation and is especially vibrant in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Moreover, many employers require access to non-fossil, renewable energy when deciding where to locate facilities.  

Conditional Use Permit Application and Map

You can view or download the Randolph Solar Conditional Use Permit Application and the interactive map.

The map provides i) the project parcels and neighboring and surrounding parcels; ii) identified wetlands, flood zone, and cultural resources; iii) fence lines and limits of disturbance; iv) neighboring residential structures; v) address lookup for parcels in the project and neighboring / surrounding parcels; vi) measurement tools; and additional features.

Click here for the interactive map.

Letters of Support and Petition

Click below for the complete Randolph Solar CUP application:

Randolph Solar Letters of Support

o  Randolph Solar Petition Signatures

Randolph Solar Neighbor Letters

Development Steps

Generally, a solar project goes through the following seven major milestones. Randolph Solar is currently completing site control, has completed the first study for interconnecting to the electrical grid, and has conducted preliminary desktop site due diligence.  

Identification

A site is chosen based on topography, access to the electrical grid, and other factors.

Site-Control

The developer, SolUnesco works with landowners to come to an agreement on an option to lease or purchase their land. From that point forward, the developer assumes all costs and risks.

SolUnesco has entered into 94 Option agreements (148 landowners) encompassing 290 parcels and 20,556 acres of land within the Project’s Footprint (options to either lease or purchase these properties).

Interconnection

PJM, the regional transmission organization, performs power flow studies to determine the costs to interconnect, which will be a key determinant in whether the project is economically viable.

• SolUnesco commissioned an independent power flow analysis.
• PJM issued queue position AF2-042: 500 MW MFO and 300 MW Capacity
• PJM completed the first study, a Feasibility Study, in July 2020.
• PJM completed the second study, a System Impact Study, in February 2021.

Field Surveys and Permitting

Local, state and federal government is engaged to ensure that the project is in harmony with the community as well as with environmental and historical resources. Prior to construction, the Project must achieve the following permits and approvals:

• Charlotte County Conditional Use Permit
• Fish and Wildlife Confirmation Letter or Permit
• Historic Resources Confirmation Letter or Permit
• Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity
• Virginia Stormwater Management Plan & Permit
• Erosion and Sediment Control Permit
• Site Plan Approval (Land Disturbance, Site Design)
• Building and Electrical Permits
• VDOT Permit

In order to pursue these permits, the project will complete, at minimum, the following site due diligence:

• Wetland Delineation with USACE Confirmation
• Phase I Environmental Site Assessment
• State Threatened & Endangered Species/Biological Surveys
• Phase 1 Cultural Resource Survey, with Limits approved by Department of Natural Resources
• Field Topographical and Boundary Survey
• Geotechnical Survey

Engineering

Throughout the project development, an engineering firm will refine the layout and electrical design based on the site due diligence and conditions imposed during permitting.

Construction and Operations

Only after completing the above due diligence, engineering, and permitting will the project start construction. Prior to construction, the developer will exercise the Option Agreements and either lease or purchase the land. Randolph Solar is expected to employ over 700 construction workers for 2 or more years of construction. Once operational, utility-scale solar projects have an anticipated 35-year lifespan.

Decommissioning

Prior to construction, the developer will provide Charlotte County with a decommissioning plan for review and approval. Per the Charlotte County ordinance:

“Decommissioning . . . shall include removal of all solar electric systems, buildings, cabling, electrical components, security barriers, roads, foundations, and pilings so that any agricultural ground is again tillable and suitable for agricultural uses. Disturbed earth shall be graded and re-seeded. Material from the property shall be disposed of in accordance with federal and state law.”

Also, prior to construction, the developer will provide Charlotte County financial security guaranteeing decommissioning and restoration throughout the life of the project. Charlotte County taxpayers will not be at risk for the cost of any of this.

All community members are welcome to attend the several community meetings or informational sessions hosted throughout the planning, development, and construction phases of the Randolph Solar project.

Randolph Solar - Initial Concept Plan

Representative Buffers

The following pictures show the current views in Charlotte County along representative roads that intersect the project area (Before pictures); and the Renderings which add a representative solar layout and an enhanced buffer in certain places (After renderings). The enhanced buffers represent growth in the vegetated buffer of 6 to 9 years, and will vary depending on soil conditions and weather.

Before

After

Before

After

Before

After

Before

After

Meet the Developers

A Virginia firm founded by two native Virginians, SolUnesco develops clean, renewable energy projects, leveraging local knowledge and boots on the ground. SolUnesco seeks to connect society’s needs to sustainable, cost-competitive energy. SolUnesco connects rural landowners with new revenue opportunities and works with local communities to ensure responsible development. Currently, SolUnesco has thirteen solar projects under development in the Commonwealth of Virginia, contributing over 1,600 MWs to the Virginia pipeline.

Francis Hodsoll and Jon Hillis founded SolUnesco in 2015, bringing together more than five decades of experience in utility plant management, energy project development, construction, and corporate leadership. Prior to forming SolUnesco, Mr. Hodsoll and Mr. Hillis had already delivered over 1 gigawatt (GW) of power via several power generation projects. They have also led solar policy and legislative efforts in the mid-Atlantic for the last five years.