The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission recommendations for minimizing potential impacts to natural and cultural resources from construction and operation of the Shockoe Solar, LLC energy storage facility in Pittsylvania County.
As noted in the filing, Shockoe Solar intends to build, own, and operate an approximately 800-acre, 60-MW solar generation project, as well as the 20-MW distributed battery energy storage system (BESS), sitting on about 1.33 acre that would be located within the solar generation project site.
The DEQ added that the BESS would allow the solar facility to provide energy to the grid during periods when the photovoltaic (PV) solar panels cannot produce electricity, thereby allowing for more consistent energy inputs into the electrical grid.
The DEQ noted that no wetlands or waters of the United States were located within the BESS site. Among its recommendations, the DEQ said that no activity may substantially disrupt the movement of aquatic life indigenous to the water body, including those species that normally migrate through the area, unless the primary purpose of the activity is to impound water.
Discussing natural heritage resources, the DEQ noted that such sources have not been documented within the submitted project boundary, including a 100-foot buffer. The absence of data may indicate that the project area has not been surveyed, rather than confirm that the area lacks natural heritage resources. The DEQ added that the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) recommends the development of an invasive species management plan for the project and the planting of Virginia native pollinator plant species that bloom throughout the spring and summer, to maximize benefits to native pollinators.
Of wildlife resources, the DEQ said that half of the BESS site is located within a cleared agricultural field, and, as a result, 0.62 acre of trees would need to be cleared. The DEQ said that effects to the northern long-eared bat are expected to be minimal.
Among other things, the DEQ addressed pollution prevention, noting that it recommends integrating pollution prevention techniques into the facility maintenance and operation, to include inventory control for centralized storage of hazardous materials.
As noted in Shockoe Solar’s Feb. 26 application filed with the commission, construction of the BESS is anticipated to begin in 4Q22, and testing of the BESS is anticipated to begin during 1Q23, followed by commissioning and commercial operation in 2Q23.