- Who is Apex?
- Why solar?
- Where is Red Brick Solar located?
- What is the timeline for Red Brick Solar’s development?
- What will Red Brick Solar look like?
- What is the footprint of the project?
- How much power will the project generate?
- Will the perimeter be fenced? If so, with what type of barrier?
- How will Red Brick Solar impact the local economy?
- How long will the site be operational?
- What is the amount of impervious surface being proposed (solar field, access roads, building)?
- What environmental studies have been completed and are planned for Red Brick Solar?
- What types of vegetation is planned on the site?
- Will the solar panels be made in America?
- Has a buyer been identified for Red Brick’s electricity?
- Will Red Brick Solar include any batteries or energy storage?
- What is the maintenance and operations plan for Red Brick Solar?
- How does Apex treat safety and training at Red Brick Solar?
- I’ve never heard of SolUnesco nor Apex Clean Energy. Tell me about them.
- What solar sites has Apex Clean Energy developed that are in operation?
- Will Red Brick Solar impact runoff, erosion, or flood plains?
- Are solar panels toxic?
- Should I be concerned about impacts to wildlife?
- Is dust going to be mitigated during construction?
- How will taxpayers be protected from decommissioning costs?
- How will the solar panels affect property values?
- How do I know that this project will stand by its commitments if ownership of the project changes?
- Will Red Brick be able to withstand a severe wind event?
- Do solar facilities cause wildfires?
- What happens if a solar panel is damaged?
- What type of sound do solar facilities produce, and how much?
- Do solar facilities produce infrasound?
- Will there be glint or glare from the solar panel clusters?
- What kind of traffic is construction going to generate?
- Will I still be able to hunt and fish on the property?
Apex Clean Energy is an independent renewable energy company based in Charlottesville, Virginia. We develop, construct, own, and operate wind and solar energy facilities across the country. Our team has completed nearly 3 GW of projects that are now operating.
Over the past few years, demand for renewable energy has grown dramatically, driven in part by corporations with sustainability goals. More than 200 companies worldwide have made commitments to go 100% renewable. Because solar energy is clean, reliable, and affordable, it has earned the spot as the fastest-growing source of electricity in the world.
The project is located in central Lunenburg County southwest of Victoria, VA. The Project is bounded to the east by Route #40 (Lunenburg County Road) and to the south by Route #49 (Courthouse Road).
The schedule for Red Brick Solar follows:
Lunenburg County Conditional Use Permit approval
VA Department of Environmental Quality approved the Permit by Rule
Final execution of PJM Interconnection Agreements
Execution of Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) Contract
Stormwater Permit Expected Approval
Lunenburg County Building Permit
Start of Construction/Notice to Proceed (NTP)
Commercial Operational Delivery (COD)
The Project plans to use bifacial photovoltaics on single-axis trackers with panels two high in portrait. These panels will be gathered in clusters on private land in Lunenburg County. The panels and racking are typically no taller than 16 feet at a maximum tilt of 60 degrees, and the inverters will also stand approximately 8 feet tall. Each cluster of panels will be surrounded by a fence, as required by the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC). To mitigate the potential for visibility from any residences, existing vegetation will remain within the county-established setbacks. With the existing terrain and vegetation, Red Brick Solar will be well hidden from the surrounding area.
Red Brick Solar has leased 2,500 + acres with plans to develop approximately 1,118 acres (~55% reduction) for solar development.
Red Brick Solar will have the capacity to produce approximately 130 MWs of clean renewable electricity. That’s enough to power more than 20,000 average American homes.
Yes. We plan to use chain link galvanized steel wire that is 6’ high with an additional 1’ of security wire. The security wire specifications can vary between a flat overhang, barbed, or razor.
Red Brick Solar plans to invest over $185 million in this project and local tax revenues are expected to grow to $217 thousand from $12 thousand currently, an increase of 1,708%. County revenues will be consistent throughout the life of the project. The Red Brick Solar project also plans to create over 300 full time equivalent jobs during construction. In addition to these direct contributions, the project will also generate indirect economic benefits as workers and landowners spend these dollars at local businesses and on securing local services.
Red Brick Solar Project is expected to operate more than 35 years - a long term investment into Lunenburg County.
Solar panels are considered pervious when spaced per industry standards and follow all Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) standards. Panel rows are spaced to accommodate future maintenance, promote sheet flow of runoff from the panels, and allow natural infiltration of runoff into the ground beneath the panels.
Surfaces being calculated as impervious are limited to the substation, foundation pilings, inverter pads, gravel and/or roadway surfaces; total impervious area on most commercial solar sites is less than 3% of the developed area.
Multiple environmental studies, including wetland delineations, threatened and endangered species reviews, and cultural resource surveys have been completed. Additional studies are planned as well for Red Brick to ensure compliance with federal and state environmental laws.
After construction is complete, native pasture/meadow mix supplied and recommended by local vendors will be planted. These grasses are expected to cut at least twice a year at a height above 4 inches.
At this time we plan on using either crystalline silicon solar modules or thin-film photovoltaic modules at Red Brick. Unfortunately, there are few American manufacturers of these solar panels today, so there is no guarantee that they will be available or cost-effective for use at Red Brick Solar.
A buyer for the electricity has been identified but prefers to remain anonymous at this time.
No battery storage is planned for Red Brick Solar at this time; however, the project’s lease provides for the right to develop, construct, and operate a utility-scale energy storage facility at the Project site. The solar industry is working to create efficient energy storage so that energy created during the day can be used after the sun goes down. Accordingly, storage costs, much like the cost of solar energy in general, are dropping rapidly, so battery storage may be considered at a future date at this location.
Red Brick Solar will be monitored remotely with modern SCADA technology and operated either by Apex or a third-party FERC-approved operator. The facility is not expected to have full-time staff on-site during operations. Instead, local and regional contractors will visit Red Brick periodically to perform maintenance and repairs and to mow the grass under and around the solar panels.
Apex has a detailed Health and Safety Manual that identifies all health and safety requirements as they relate to construction and operations. This plan is reviewed with each site employee during an initial orientation. An Emergency Action Plan (EAP) has also been developed for all sites for use both during and post-construction. These EAPs are reviewed annually for needed updates. All projects require contractor bids to include their own Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) plan, which must meet or exceed the Apex HSE plan. A gap analysis is developed to bridge any gaps in the plan. Once the project begins construction, the contractor will follow their approved HSE plan with oversight by the Apex safety team. Safety councils are also formed by site leaders to consistently discuss, address, and improve safety concerns. Each morning, “Plan of the Day” (POD) meetings (attended by Apex’s director of health and safety) are held to discuss the day’s activities, as well as any risks that may arise. Once construction is complete and the site begins operating, the Apex Clean Energy HSE plan and EAP will be put into use. Finally, during operations, all safety training is conducted on a schedule required under regulation. Each operating site is also required to conduct annual emergency drills. Depending on the nature of the drill, local emergency authorities are sometimes asked to participate.
SolUnesco is a Virginia firm founded in 2015 by two native Virginians. SolUnesco develops clean, renewable energy projects and spearheads state and local policy development.
SolUnesco currently has 13 solar projects in construction or under development in the Commonwealth of Virginia, contributing over 1,770 MW to the state. We strive to connect rural landowners with new revenue opportunities through sustainable, cost-competitive energy generation. We work with the community to ensure responsible development from early planning until the project is brought online.
Apex Clean Energy is a privately owned American company that was founded in 2009 with the sole purpose of developing and operating renewable energy projects. To date, Apex has completed 16 wind and solar projects (totaling 3,600 MW) that are now in operation, with 1.3 million acres of land under lease around the country and 20+ GW of projects currently under development.
Apex’s mission is to accelerate the shift to clean energy, and one way we do that is by providing high-quality renewable energy facilities to customers that are looking for a way to participate in this growing market. Our customers include utilities, corporations, banks, and others who share our commitment to quality, safety, and performance and who are excited to enter the renewable energy space. A full list of the partners Apex has worked with to date can be found at http://www.apexcleanenergy.com/our-story, among them well-known names like IKEA, Facebook, Google, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, Apple, McDonald’s, eBay, and several other Fortune 500 customers.
Apex Clean Energy has thousands of megawatts of solar projects in various phases of development, including a dozen similar to Red Brick throughout Virginia.
No. To minimize the amount of earth that must be disturbed and graded, Red Brick Solar will be designed to be built on the flattest portions of the project site. In addition, the land beneath and around the solar panels will be planted in grasses, which will help stabilize the soil and prevent runoff.
At Red Brick, existing laws require the solar project receive state approval of a stormwater management plan that ensures no excess sediment or water volume is allowed to flow into nearby waterways or neighboring properties. This Erosion and Sediment Control Plan will be designed in accordance with the Commonwealth’s standards, the Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook, and the Lunenburg County Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance (Chapter 42, Article II).
No. Red Brick Solar will utilize either crystalline silicon solar modules or thin-film photovoltaic modules—both of which are nontoxic. Crystalline panels use a crystal lattice of silicon atoms to convert sunlight into electricity. Silicon is the second-most-abundant material on Earth (after oxygen), the most common semiconductor used in computer chips, and is nontoxic. Learn more at https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/solar-photovoltaic-cell-basics.
Some communities have raised concern about thin-film photovoltaics, which can contain a compound called cadmium telluride (CdTe). However, these concerns have been shown to be unfounded. Cadmium telluride (CdTe) is a stable compound, and according to a 2019 study from Virginia Tech, CdTe photovoltaic installations pose little to no environmental health or safety risks (http://www.firstsolar.com/-/media/First-Solar/Sustainability-Documents/Sustainability-Peer-Reviews/Virgina-Tech-Peer-Review.ashx).
No. Studies show that in addition to helping displace emissions produced by fossil fuel generation, solar energy facilities can improve biodiversity and benefit wildlife by improving habitat in their immediate vicinity (https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acs.est.8b00020).
Although solar panels may modify wildlife habitat in the project’s immediate footprint, evidence suggests that these changes are balanced by other habitat-based benefits, and there is currently no evidence to support a conclusion that solar farms have an adverse impact on wildlife’s use of the land surrounding the project. As a part of the permitting process, Red Brick Solar is consulting with state and federal wildlife agencies, including the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to ensure that wildlife is adequately protected.
Yes. Depending on the time of year that construction of Red Brick Solar takes place, unpaved roads used to access the project site might be quite dry. Red Brick will minimize the production of dust from construction traffic using common methods that may include watering roads or applying dust control treatments, as required by sediment and erosion control regulations.
Among the commitments memorialized in the Red Brick Conditional Use Permit application is one requiring the removal all facilities at the end of the project’s operational life and restoring the land to its pre-facility state at the project’s expense. Part of this commitment includes posting a decommissioning surety with the county that would cover such costs prior to the project receiving building permits.
Many studies have concluded that there is no impact on sale price for residential, agricultural, or vacant residential land that adjoins existing or proposed solar farms. Matched pair studies, which compare similar parcels of land that do and do not border solar farms, find that properties retain competitive value after the installation of solar panels. The number of solar farms continues to grow, diminishing associated stigma as well. Further, as solar panels remain compatible with other land uses, land use can be maximized to bolster value.
No matter who owns the project during its lifetime, that entity will be legally bound to honor all of the legally binding commitments the project has made over time. All lease contracts, county and municipal agreements, and representations made in project applications will remain fully in effect if the facility transfers to new ownership.
Solar panels are designed to withstand inclement weather events, including wind, rain, hail, and long-term exposure to the sun. Each project is engineered specifically for its site by professional engineers who provide stamped drawings for the system racking installation, including pier embedment depths, dampener locations, and module attachment requirements.
Registered professional engineers are responsible for confirming that the project is designed to comply with the National Building Code. This code sets the design wind speed (specifically for hurricane zones) and sets the minimum wind speed for which the racking system and panel connection must be designed. The engineer also confirms that the project meets electric codes and standards UL 3703, UL 2703, and IEC 62817.
In addition, the engineers’ evaluation incorporates consideration of numerous site-specific factors, including both local expected wind speeds and potential extreme wind speeds. Once the project is built, weather stations at multiple locations across the project site will signal the tracking system to move to certain “stow positions” if the wind speeds increase to the higher limits of the design. These systems are designed to protect themselves in high-wind conditions.
Civil and geotechnical engineers also evaluate site-specific soil conditions to determine the proper sizing of the support piers—for example, whether pier coatings are needed for alkaline soils and how deep support piers must be driven. The physical investigation techniques used to assess geotechnical conditions include soil borings and push-pull tests to determine soil friction.
These evaluations ensure that projects are designed and built to be safe on their specific sites. If an unanticipated extreme weather event does take place and the solar system is damaged, or if system components cause damage to someone else’s property, the project or its insurance policy would cover the cost of repairs and/or removal of damaged equipment.
No. Renewable resources, including solar PV, can lessen the effects of wildfire season. Studies show that helping displace emissions produced by fossil fuel generation will help slow the effects of climate change, which is known to make forests hotter and drier and, in turn, increase the chances of wildfire. In addition, solar energy facilities can improve biodiversity and benefit wildlife by improving habitat in their immediate vicinity.
If a solar panel is damaged at any time during construction or operations, the panel will be replaced, and the damaged panel will be removed from the site for disposal or recycling.
While the solar trackers do produce a small amount of sound the main source of sound in a solar facility are the inverters. These devices convert DC power to AC power and are best described as making a humming-type sound. We expect the sound pressure of our inverters to be 55dB at 50 meters. (At the fence line, sound from this project will be significantly less than the county recommended limit, which is 67 dBA).
As you can see from the graph below, the project’s sound level equates to that of normal conversation. Since our inverters are all interior to the project, we expect little to no sound to travel beyond the project area.
No. Solar projects have not been shown to be significant sources of low frequency sound (20 hertz to 200 Hz) or infrasound (less than 20 Hz). The available one-third octave band sound data for solar panel inverters have shown low levels at the frequencies of concern. In fact, New York State recently revised its renewable energy permitting rules, and solar projects are no longer required to demonstrate that there are no adverse effects of low frequency (LFN) or infrasound (IF) in project communities.
Red Brick Solar will use solar panels that are designed to maximize absorption and minimize reflection to increase electricity production efficiency. Panels are designed with at least one antireflective layer that produces smaller amounts of glare and reflectance than normal glass. The light that is still reflected from solar panels will be at a reflection point higher than motor vehicles, pedestrians, and similar vantage points. The intensity of any glare will be a great deal less than the glare from direct sunlight, and no hazard to air navigation has been found.
Construction is expected to take about a year, with a variety of activities taking place over that time, some requiring more activity and some requiring less. On average, construction will require about 10 to 20 truck trips per day, but during the 9-month period when racking systems and modules are being delivered to the project site, traffic to and from the project site could increase to 50 to 75 truck trips per week. Most delivery vehicles will be standard tractor trailers and dump trucks. Once the project is operational, traffic will be insignificant, limited primarily to pickup trucks and other small vehicles.
Although solar panels are tough, they aren’t bulletproof. Because of this, no hunting will be allowed within the project boundary. Fortunately, the region has thousands of acres of land where hunting is allowed, so you won’t have to travel far to find prime hunting ground.