Community is one of SolUnesco’s core values. Since our founding, we have sought to understand every perspective and provide neighbors with ample opportunity to learn about SolUnesco and our projects. In September of 2021, we began direct neighbor outreach in order to: 

  1. Introduce SolUnesco and the Randolph Solar Project to the community 
  2. Open a direct line of communication to our neighbors  
  3. Answer any immediate concerns or questions 
  4. Provide detailed maps of their parcel(s) and the closest distance to the project 
  5. Analyze the current viewshed and note areas needing supplemental or new plantings 

Through our neighbor outreach, we were in touch with 348 nearby landowners, either in person or via mail and information packets. We collected 42 letters of support for the project. 

MINIMAL IMPACT

Land 

Solar construction does not utilize large-scale flattening of existing topography as seen in other types of large development. Recent advances in racking technology allow the systems to be used in areas of up to a 15% slope. While there may be amounts of localized grading, which will be determined after field surveys and presented to the County as part of the construction plans and grading plans, land preparation activities will largely maintain the current topography. 

Additionally, the construction and operation of a solar site provides an opportunity to remove and clean any existing abandoned buildings, vehicles, trash, or litter in order to properly place and maintain solar equipment. 

The cleanup of this forgotten debris prevents trash or any potentially hazardous material that previously existed on site from leeching into the ground or into nearby streams and waterways. 

 

Air 

The site will produce no dust or smoke during operations. Ground cover will mitigate dust during wind events or maintenance visits. No smoke or other air pollutants are produced as a byproduct of solar energy generation. Once construction is complete, the solar facility is passive, imposing no impacts on the neighbors and producing no pollutants or other emissions.

 

Water 

State and regional regulations regulate water flow/runoff during both construction and operations. Prior to construction, the following two processes will govern the Project’s water management:

1. Southside Soil and Water Conservation District will review, approve, and oversee the Project soil and erosion control plan;

2. Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will review the Project’s stormwater management. Both agencies will issue permits with stipulated conditions that will mitigate any potential water management issues during both construction and operations.

No water is required for solar facility operation. Occasionally, minimal water use may be necessary to control dust during construction or for panel washing 1-2 times per year. A study by Harvard Kennedy School finds that solar facilities are one of the least water-intensive methods of electricity generation.

 

Noise

Unlike other power generation facilities, solar facilities use no moving parts and therefore minimal noise coming only from inverters and the utility-owned substation transformers. The inverters produce a low-level hum, roughly equivalent to a dishwasher and only during daylight hours while the system is generating energy. At night, there will be zero noise coming from the site. Inverters are placed back from the perimeter of the property line to ensure little to no noise at the fence line.

 

Light 

Solar facilities do not require any lighting during normal operations. Any security lighting is specifically designed to face inward and downward and is not detectable across viewsheds. Solar panels, designed to absorb as much light as possible, do not produce any hazardous glare and refract less light than typical metal roofing.

 

Cultural Resources 

Randolph Solar’s is conducting numerous cultural resource studies within the project footprint and surrounding buffer, and will produce a series of reports, the completion of VCRIS forms on all recorded resources, and potentially the creation of public outreach materials to share the history of the area with the community.  

We anticipate: 

    • Over 4,500 acres of land will be the subject of Phase IB archaeological survey resulting in the recordation of dozens of sites and cemeteries;  
    • More than 250 above-ground properties such as buildings, structures, objects, and historic districts will be documented;  
    • Archival research will be completed on thousands of acres of previously undocumented Charlotte County land; 
    • Advanced Phase II-level studies will be performed on several cultural resources to better understand the area’s history and Native American lifeways;  
    • Numerous reports and hundreds of VCRIS forms will be produced to document all forms of both below-ground and above-ground cultural resources

All of this material will be placed on file at the DHR to assure there is a permanent archive of materials available for future researchers. The cultural resource studies will be examined alongside project plans to avoid significant resources to the greatest degree possible and, where avoidance cannot occur, all resources will be studied and the impacts mitigated as approved by the DHR. In addition, the results of the work will be shared with the public as allowable.

 

Project Decommissioning 

At the end of a solar facility’s life, all panels and equipment are removed from the site—with many components that are able to be recycled—in accordance with state and local government permits and landowner agreements. The site is completely cleared and restored for its original use. The solar facility prepares a detailed decommissioning plan based on final engineering, which details the decommissioning process, provides cost estimates by certified engineer, and stipulates the financial security. This plan is presented to the county for review before construction begins. Prior to construction, the developer will provide Charlotte County financial security guaranteeing decommissioning and restoration throughout the life of the project.