UPDATE: Raleigh County Commission approves funding for solar panel farm

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 6 p.m. UPDATE: BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — The Raleigh County Commission held a meeting on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 to decide how to fund the proposed solar farm. In a two-to-one vote, commissioners decided the solar farm will be paid for by the company.

Over 20 years, Dakota Power Partners will pay the county a little more than $2 million. Roughly $1.6 million of that will go to the Raleigh County Board of Education. Raleigh County Commission President Dave Tolliver said the hope of attracting new businesses helped win over the majority of the commissioners.

“I felt that I needed to vote yes for diversity. Of course coal is down, but I just don’t see where it is going to cost that many coal jobs,” Tolliver explained.

The project will now have to be approved by the zoning board and the board of education.

ORIGINAL: A new source of energy could be coming to Raleigh County.

The Raleigh County Commission held a public meeting on Tuesday, August 18, 2020 to discuss the details of a proposed solar farm in Raleigh County. The farm would consist of more than 180,000 panels. Commissioners said they are looking at two plots of land east and west of Grandview Road, and north of I-64.

People attended the meeting to ask questions and express concerns. They were also able to speak with representatives from Dakota Power Partners, who would be taking on the project.

Samantha Garretson lives in the Grandview area. She said this project will ruin the resale value of her home.

“Who wants solar farms in their front yard and their back yard? That’s the whole reason people move out there is for the beautiful farmland,” said Garretson.

Some homeowners were also concerned with the noise level the project will bring, as well as the amount of jobs it would create, or if local labor may be used. While many people expressed their concerns, Raleigh County Commissioner Ron Hedrick said this was the point of the meeting,
and will ultimately help them make a decision.

“I thought there was some good questions and there was some good answers those questions, and there is potential that this project could help the local economy,” said Hedrick.

County Commissioners will continue to weigh their options for both the location of the project and how the county would be paid. They plan to discuss these details in the first meeting of September.

If approved, the project should be completed late 2022 or 2023. For more information, visit raleighsolarfarm.com.

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