Before proceeding with more utility scale renewable energy projects, the State of Virginia should have the answers to several critically important questions.
1. How much land will ultimately be required for solar and wind utility scale facilities now and in the future as the population grows. A 500 megawatt utility scale solar facility was constructed in Spotsylvania County on ten square miles of what was previously forest land. How many more such facilities must be built and how much forest and agricultural land will be destroyed in the process?
2. Will there be enough forest and agricultural land left to satisfy the demand for forest and agricultural products now and in the future as the population grows.
3. How will the required land be acquired? State and or private acquisition? What will be the source of funding? Taxes? Higher energy costs? How much of an increase in taxes and or energy costs will be required.
3. What will happen to the fossil fuel powered plants that are displaced? Will they be left to become derelict or be dismantled and the land reclaimed. What will be the cost? The cost will likely not be insignificant. Who will pay the higher taxes and or energy costs?
4. Will the combination of “urban sprawl” and “green energy sprawl” leave any open space available for other land uses such as parks, outdoor recreation, historical preservation and required increases in agricultural production to meet the needs of a growing population?
5. What will be the psychological and financial effects on the citizens of the state from widespread installation of utility scale solar and wind facilities? I saw the before and after effects of widespread wind turbine towers in Germany. The towers were an awful blight on what was previously a beautiful countryside. It was a very sad and depressing sight. Several large solar facilities were built on what had been forest land near my in-laws cottage at Lake Gaston. They are detestable eyesores! How will citizens be compensated when adjacent solar or wind facilities cause their property values to plummet?