Chesapeake residents concerned about plans for solar farm

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — There are plans to build a solar farm in one Chesapeake neighborhood. It would include thousands of solar panels on 245 acres of land off Centerville Turnpike South.

Most of the people living around the proposed site told 10 On Your Side they had mixed feelings about the plans.

The land sits directly behind Brian Lomax’s home.

“I’m kind of indifferent about it because I know it’s bringing energy costs down supposedly, but I’m not certain how that’s going to impact us a consumer,” he said.

Similar concerns are shared by licensed engineer and Chesapeake resident David Schleeper. He started a petition asking city leaders to create a long term plan for renewable energy.

“I’m interested to see what solar has to offer,” Schleeper said.

Neither man is against the idea completely, but they have serious concerns about the amount of space proposed to be consumed, the impact on open space in the city and the overall long term effects of the thousands of solar panels.

“It’s well known that solar energy is not cheap to create so if we start getting more and more of these created and more of our energy is created from solar electricity what’s that going to do to our utility rates long term?” Schleeper asked.

The Centerville Turnpike Solar Project is not the only one up for discussion in a planning commission meeting next week.

There are two other proposed sites for solar projects: 176 acres of land between Beaver Dam Road and Head of River Road will be discussed, along with 154 acres of land on Ballentine Road.

“When it comes to consuming several hundred acres of land, I think we need to be very delicate about how we proceed forward especially for something as long term a contract as these 30 year deals are,” Schleeper said.

Public Communications Coordinator Karen Meyers emailed this statement in response to a WAVY request for an on camera interview:

Per City Manager James Baker, the city is always interested in exploring options for renewable energy with the private sector or others. At this point in time, it is too early in the process to discuss specifics of any  plan or framework for moving forward on this topic. However, we are always open to listening to citizen input and ideas.”

10 On Your Side has learned the city is reviewing the possibility of an advisory panel related to plans for renewable energy, but no recommendation has been made to council yet.

Citizens can offer input on the plans in the Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Wednesday, May 10 at 7 p.m.