The proposed utility-scale solar facility in the Raccoon Ford area of Culpeper county was withdrawn Monday.
In a letter to Culpeper County Planning Director Sam McLearen, McGuire Woods’ attorney M. Ann Neil Cosby - representing Cricket Solar - announced their intention to withdraw their application for a utility-scale solar facility along Route 647 (Algonquin Trail), Route 617 (Raccoon Ford Road) and Route 661 (Blackjack Road). The proposed solar farm was to use up to approximately 885.6 acres of the total 1589.8 acres for solar arrays and other ancillary equipment.
“On behalf of Cricket Solar, LLC (“Cricket”), I am writing to formally withdraw Cricket's Conditional Use Permit (“CUP”) Application (Case No. U-2214-18-1] filed on December 21, 2108, related to its proposed utility scale solar facility (the “Project”),” Cosby wrote. “Cricket has been working diligently over the last few months redesigning the Project boundaries to protect wetlands, improve efficiencies, and respond to community concerns related to the Project. These efforts remain ongoing. However, at this time, the company believes a withdrawal of the Project is necessary in order to ensure that any Project proposed represents Cricket's best effort to address community concerns. We sincerely appreciate the County's efforts and time to this date on our application.”
McLearen was out of the office Tuesday and unavailable for comment. A Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Sept. 11 to hear the application was canceled.
Susan Ralston, with Citizens for Responsible Solar, expressed joy that Cricket Solar has withdrawn its application.
“This project was never in line with the rural and agricultural character of the area,” she said in an email Tuesday. “While we see this as a victory, the war against industrial-scale solar isn’t over. We will continue to press County officials to adopt a solar ordinance that balances the demand for renewable energy while protecting the environment and landowners. Until then, the County is still under threat from industrial-scale solar developers.”
On Sunday, Citizens for Responsible Solar held a meeting at historic Greenville where Ron Maxwell, director of “Gettysburg” and “Gods and Generals” spoke out against the proposed solar farm.
Maxwell called the idea “foolishness” and under the guise of improvement and progress.
“I stand in opposition to this solar farm,” he said Sunday evening, in front of a crowd of more than 50. “I acknowledge that we're in a global energy crisis. We know we’re looking for different ways to get off of fossil fuels. In terms of the big picture, solar farms are never the answer - let alone to put them on historic property, revered land. It doesn’t get any more hallowed than this.”
For more about the efforts that stopped Cricket, read the Culpeper time’s feature on Citizens for Responsible Solar in the Sept. 5 edition.