The ill-conceived Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) has created an enormous stampede of proposed solar projects. The lineup of “subsidy farms” in progress is breathtaking. It is also stupid.
The numbers are incredible. Here are the ugly basics:
780 square miles of solar slabs so far and the list is growing. That is about 500,000 acres of countryside, farmland or forests destroyed and paved over.
Roughly 500 separate projects blanketing much of rural Virginia.
Requiring a staggering 160 million solar panels, mostly from China and all destined to become hundreds of tons of toxic waste.
The gruesome details are available on a county by county basis.
There is a Virginia map with each county color coded by the number of proposed panels. There is also a 38 page list of all these projects, listed by county or city for each stage of development. Each entry also includes the project name, nameplate power output, estimated acreage and number of panels.
Most of the action is in the eastern two-thirds of the state. The west is mountainous with little farm land and a lot of National Forest. It is also far from the eastern load centers (commonly known as cities). The southern border is especially busy. Sussex and Greenville Counties are hardest hit, with each looking to lose over 30 square miles of countryside, to carry more than 10,000,000 toxic panels per county.
Some true monsters are on the list. Quite a number of projects are over 5 square miles each, with a few true whoppers paving around 7 square miles. Not included are the vast swathes of land for new transmission lines to collect all this intermittent juice. No doubt this takes the total to well over 800 square miles and the list is growing.
Why the environmentalists are not screaming and suing to stop this vast, open land destroying, action is beyond me.
Dominion Energy, Virginia’s primary electric power utility, reports that the existing solar fleet only produces about 15% of its capacity. This makes sense because it predictably produces nothing 16 to 18 hours a day and unpredictably produces very little on cloudy, rainy or snowy days, which Virginia gets a lot of. A good two foot snow will shut them down for a long time.
All this environmental destruction for very little juice makes no sense whatsoever. Would you buy a generator that only worked 15% of the time? But it is mandated by the VCEA, which is truly stupid.
Governor-elect Youngkin says he wants to repeal the VCEA. This is a great idea, but it will not be easy. The solar developers stand to make billions of wasted dollars, so they will fight very hard. Dominion too stands to make a lot of money from all this useless destruction. The more power costs the more they make.
In this regard it is somewhat amusing that the solar people have created a front group called “Conservatives for Clean Energy”. As though paving 800 square miles of Virginia countryside were clean!
They have their “2022 Clean Energy Awards Reception” coming up and below is the sponsor list from their website. Easy to see where the money is coming from.
Commonwealth Energy Partners
Open Road Renewables
Amazon Web Services (also a front as Amazon is a solar slab developer)
Coalition for Community Solar Access
It will be interesting to see how many government officials get awards.
In summary, Governor-elect Youngkin has said it as clearly as possible:
“We need an electrical grid which is stable, and we absolutely have to change direction. We must change direction from the clean energy plan that has passed, ….. because it is not doable, affordable, or good for Virginia.”
Let’s get on with repealing the Virginia Clean Energy Act. Paving Virginia with solar slabs is a very bad law.