During the discussions of the now-invalidated zoning amendment ZTA 19-03, several citizens expressed concern that the broad expansion of the amendment to include by-right development of industrial solar in rural and residential growth zones would open up most of the county as potential sites for these facilities.
Earlier this year, The Observer spoke with representatives of several solar development companies and other individuals with experience in solar development to identify the areas of Jefferson County most suitable for utility-scale solar projects. In a February 2021 article on this topic, The Observer identified 5 large solar project proposed for siting in the county. Since then two more projects have been proposed, one in southern Jefferson County and across the border in Frederick County VA (an additional project in Clarke County VA was previously in the identified, but not included in our February map).
The eight orange circles on this map of Jefferson County (above) indicate the approximate locations of these eight utility-scale solar projects that are in the process of being approved for connection to the regional power grid operated by PJM. The rectangular orange blocks indicate other areas in Jefferson County most likely to meet the current siting criteria and investment objectives of solar project developments.
While current development costs and economic models for utility-scale solar would likely limit development to the areas identified on this map, it is possible that changes in government policy and investment subsidies could make it economically feasible to develop projects further afield from the existing transmission lines — either by private developers negotiating access rights across adjacent properties or by a public utility undertaking the process of constructing a new transmission line. For example, in Berkeley County, Torch Energy is developing a project on the former DuPont industrial site that will require construction of a new underground connection to the Beddington substation several miles away.
Visit The Observer’s Solar Sightline story for related articles and resources about commercial-scale solar projects in Jefferson County, West Virginia.