When it comes to solar energy, Virginia shines bright. In 2017 the Commonwealth ranked 10th in the nation for total megawatts (Mw) of solar panels installed. And in 2018, Dominion Energy purchased the rights to develop two large solar projects in Surry County, Virginia that will produce enough energy for 60,000 homes.
McKim & Creed is providing civil engineering, electrical design and permitting for one of those projects. Colonial Trail West (CTW) encompasses approximately 1,800 acres and will generate 142 Mw of power. It is scheduled to be operational by December 2019.
The environmental challenges of CTW, combined with a compressed schedule, required an innovative approach to both design and efficiency. The site is infiltrated with almost 200 acres of wetland fingers. Also, a large portion drains to the James River. This required standard permitting as well as compliance with the more restrictive Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act of 1988. Almost 200 sediment / stormwater basins were required, and McKim & Creed successfully prepared the plans and calculations in just over two months.
McKim & Creed also developed an innovative design approach that minimized environmental impacts and saved our client $1 million in construction costs. By combining the temporary erosion control and permanent stormwater management plan requirements, the development was given significantly more time to establish adequate vegetative stabilization. This converted temporary measures into permanent solutions and resulted in no land disturbance upon construction completion. Environmental regulators indicated that this approach would be incorporated in future solar farms in Virginia.