sPower: a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Do not be fooled into thinking that sPower wants to be a good neighbor to the citizens of Spotsylvania County. This could not be further from the real truth, and one that is veiled behind glitzy images of green spaces and a smooth pro-solar marketing campaign, that has been launched to counter efforts to squash the project. The truth is much darker and one that all Spotsylvania County residents should be aware of.

First, it is important to put things in perspective. This “Wolf” (sPower) is a company made up of over 125 LLC’s and is also co-owned by an investment group located in Canada. This loosely defined group of investors expects to make seriously big money off of the sPower industrial plant that is to be the fifth largest in the United States and the largest east of the Rocky Mountains. This industrial utility plant is sited less than 50 feet from the property line of some locations; which is in itself an anomaly for their own industry.

Based on my own research and an estimate of 3,500 acres to be used for solar generation and using Land Mark Dividend.com’s estimate of return per acre yearly as a estimating tool, sPower and its investors could possibly generate $74,375,000 (over $74 million) to $148,750,000 (over $148 million) in income yearly.

Over the 35 year lifespan of the equipment this is a possible income of $2,603,125,000 ($2.6 billion) to $5,206,250,000 ($5.2 billion). Although this is an estimate and real numbers may vary, these raw calculations give an idea of the amount of money that is in play with this project.

Clothed as a”Sheep”and stating that they want to be a “good neighbor” sPower offers the County $600,000 for 35 years ($21,000,000 or $21.0 million). The tax portion sPower would have owed regardless of any additional incentives would have been $8.0 million in this same period.

The County receives the remaining $13.0 million as an incentive over 35 years. This is only .24% of sPower’s possible $5.2 billion income – a very small amount based on the enormous change to county residents’ lives, the environmental impacts, unknowable real costs of decommissioning, and sPower’s project income.

This corporate “Wolf” was on full display at the meeting held at the Hobart Building during the public hearing on December 5th. Packing the first three rows on the left side of the room, with sPower “suits” and corporate lawyers surrounded by stacked boxes of folders and notebooks, our new “good neighbors” stated their project was the “future for the County”.

To me, feeding the hungry mouths of corporate greed from the targeted land and wetland areas, home to many native species, is the farthest thing from what I have in mind as the “future for the County”. With minimal monies flowing into our community after the construction phase, many workers being transported in instead of strong local hiring, new unanswered questions of low frequency humming noise pollution from panel inverters, and seriously underfunded decommissioning cost proposals, the risks to the County to allow this project to go forward are too high. sPower a “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” certainly does not appear to be the good neighbor that they claim they want to be.

Yes, the future is coming, but we do not have to embrace the vision that sPower sets out for our own County. We can instead embrace a vision of encouraging companies that want to share real community and prosperity with their neighbors to locate here.