This series of articles is the first of The Observer’s SIGHTLINES  — in-depth explorations intended to engage and inform the community on key topics. Each SIGHTLINE story will take the form of a multi-part series, published in both our monthly print issue and on our website. Our first SIGHTLINE explores the implications of large-scale solar projects in Jefferson County, West Virginia. The introduction to this story and published installments can be found below. The first installment of this series was published in the August 2020 edition of The Observer. This page will continue to be updated with new installments and additional resources.

Debating the Opportunities & Concerns

The Jefferson County Commission is considering an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance that would allow for by-right development of industrial solar energy facilities on any property in a Rural or Residential Growth Zone District in Jefferson County. This amendment started with a request to the Planning Commission to add a conditional use permit process for large-scale solar projects. The proposed text amendment would implement a much more sweeping change to the zoning throughout the County.

The next step in the amendment process is a County Commission Workshop, to be held on Thursday, August 6 (the workshop is scheduled to begin 11:00 am, following the regular session of the Commission). At this workshop, the Commissioners will hear presentations from county staff, industry consultants, and other individuals about issues related to the amendment.


CLICK HERE to register to view the live webinar.

CLICK HERE to download the meeting agenda (select 08-06-20 Agenda from the 2020 drop-down menu).

CLICK HERE to download the information packet (select 08-06-20 Agenda Packet from the 2020 dropdown menu). The workshop material begins on page 55 of the packet.

Following the workshop sessions, the Commission will schedule a public hearing on the current version of the amendment. Following the public hearing, the County Commission can decide to vote on adopting the amendment, make modifications to the amendment, or refer it back to the Planning Commission for further review.


Additional Information and Resources


Part I: Perspectives from a Local Solar Professional

For the first article in this series (published in the August 2020 issue), The Observer invited Danny Chiotos, a professional with a local solar company and a long time advocate for renewable energy, to research and address some questions about the nature of the specific solar generation project that initiated the request for this proposed zoning amendment.

The Observer will be inviting other contributors to submit research and analysis-based recommendations on this topic so that we can help the community and our local government officials navigate this discussion.

Part II: Perspectives from Local Farmers

(to be published in September 2020).

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