The Observer explores the implications of large-scale commercial solar projects in Jefferson County, West Virginia. This SIGHTLINE story includes articles published in the August and September 2020 issues of our printed newspaper along with additional resources to help inform the community discussion on this topic.
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 public hearing to be held by the Jefferson County Commission on Friday September 11. The public hearing is scheduled to begin at 1:00 pm as a Zoom call (link below). All individuals are invited to attend and comment.
Following the public hearing, the County Commission will accept additional comments for two weeks. After that period, the Commission can decide to schedule a vote to be held at a future meeting to adop the amendment, make modifications to the amendment, or refer it back to the Planning Commission for further review.
Additional Information and Resources
- Zoning Ordinance Amendment ZTA 19-03 (download PDF)
- Envision Jefferson 2035 Comprehensive Plan (download PDF)
- Future Land Use Map for Jefferson County (download JPG)
- PJM Connection Queue – search all proposed commercial energy generation projects in the mid-Atlantic region (website)
The Observer spoke with several energy industry professionals engaged in the development and management of utility-scale energy projects to get some background information about the types of large-scale solar projects being proposed for Jefferson County. Read what they told us. >>>
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. >>>
For the second article in this series (published in the September 2020 issue), The Observer asked several local farmers how large-scale solar development might fit into the economic and pastoral landscape of Jefferson County. >>>By Staff Contributor