Longroad Energy is a Boston based company focused on the development and operation of wind and solar energy projects across North America. Since its creation, the company has been successfully developing, financing, and constructing wind and solar projects, currently operating over 1600 megawatts within the projects. Longroad is an American company and using all American made equipment. One of the two projects, in the Southside Virginia area, currently being developed is just a few miles outside of Chase City.
“It is important to know that we do have a remote operation center that can turn projects on or off and we usually have local technicians that operate projects. Everywhere we go we pride ourselves in being partners with the county and the people that will be working this facility, if and when its built, will be members of the local community.” says Longroad Director of Development, Matt Levine. Longroad is currently working with Mary Jane Elkins at Southside Virginia Community College to boost the workforce development program for solar panel installation. The project will have a big economic impact of both construction and operation. During the 12 to 16 month construction period the project could employ as many as 200 people and from that point there will be ongoing technician jobs available. The project also has the potential to provide a large amount of tax revenue to the county without a strain on municipal resources.
The idea for this project started three years ago when the company was assessing the market and discovered that Virginia fell within the PJM interconnection. “Basically we’re looking at circuit transmission lines that we think will be attracted in two ways. The commercial interest and buying the power as well as the physical capacity of the line to inject electricity.” Levine continued, “I think some people might criticize the amount of projects near Chase City but its important to know that the reason us southern developers have targeted that area is due to how the transmission system is built over there. When we start with a transmission we can’t venture too far away from the transmission line because it cost too much to build another transmission line to get there.” Once the company has designated an area of land based on factors such as close proximity to the transmission line and the cost to purchase is not so expensive that it makes the project uneconomic. They would then go out and speak to landowners in person about an option to lease the property. At this point the project all of the land is controlled under option, various transmission studies have been done, geotechnical analysis, and has crossed into the permitting phase. “We’re actively marketing the electricity to various off takers, whether it be the large technology companies in the world trying to go renewable or various utilities.” Levine says.
The project is sited within a larger tract of land surrounded by timber lines, blocking it from view. Longroad aims to maintain the rural integrity of the community and understands that it plays a major part in the appeal of the county. Mr. Joel Cathey is the land manager and has worked with the property owners for quite a while. “One thing that I think is worth mentioning is the amount of solar panels that are on the plan is around 942 acres of panels and the piece of property is 3300 acres in size, so its not like this project is going to take up the entire piece of property. Only 30% of the property will be solar panels and the rest will remain planted timber” explained Cathey. McGuire Woods Consulting, LLC., Senior Vice President, Michael Thomas added, “[Longroad] was looking for a place that doesn’t take a working farm, timber is agricultural but its different from the working farm that folks have in their minds. It’s been made a high priority for county leaders and citizens to preserve the character of the area.”
The project will be presented to the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors on Thursday, February 27 at the Goode Bank Building in Boydton.