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LETTER: Megawatts per acre?  Or acres per megawatt?

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LETTER: A letterbox with the inscription Letter to the editor

In your Oct. 6 article "Rural counties wrestle with solar power demands from Northern Virginia", you make the nonsensical statement "For comparison, using a 100-watt light bulb as a yardstick, a single megawatt equals a million watts." I am happy to inform you that a single megawatt equals a million watts, even if you use a stack of dead fish as a yardstick.

A more useful comparison can be made by comparing the acreage required to produce a megawatt from natural gas compared to the acreage required for solar. Dominion Energy has both a natural gas facility and a solar facility on Lucky Hill Road in Remington.

Using Google Maps, we can easily see that each facility occupies about 70 acres, not including reserved space for maintenance and expansion. The natural gas facility produces 604 megawatts (~9 mW per acre), while the solar facility produces a scant 20 megawatts (~0.3 mW per acre) from the same acreage.

Solar requires an astounding 30 times the acreage of natural gas facilities. Gov. Ralph Northam's ambitious plan of producing 16.7 gigawatts of solar power will require 58,450 acres of solar panels, or about the same area as Washington D.C. and Arlington County. Or Richmond, Charlottesville and Fairfax City.  All of which are great candidates for paving over with solar panels.

Fauquier County is already doing way more than its fair share of producing electricity. Dominion's Remington natural gas facility can power 150,000 homes. Their solar facility can power 5,000 homes.  A little ways down Lucky Hill Road is Old Dominion Electric Cooperative's Marsh Run Power Plant, powered by natural gas. At 504 megawatts, it can power about 125,000 homes.

So, Fauquier produces electricity for 280,000 homes, but we only have about 28,000 homes. Our excess electricity can power all the homes in Loudoun County, and most of Prince William too.

I don't see any need to turn more of Fauquier's agricultural land into solar facilities. But your megawattage may vary.

—Dave Hennessey


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(2) comments

Cameron Jones

Great letter, but there you go debating feelings with fact again. The Obama Administration started this push for solar, requiring Dominion and other power companies across the nation, to produce a minimum of 25% of their power from alternate (read, MORE EXPENSIVE, LESS EFFICIENT) power sources by an artificial deadline. It seems as though the Biden Administration is continuing this ridiculous policy, and perhaps they are even forcing Dominion to use the money you, the TOTALLY captive consumer is paying them for power, to contribute to secretive PACs which support statewide candidates of the Democrat Party as well? After all, they can just pass the cost on to you, the consumer.


Thumbs up to both authors. Thank you for pointing out that slogans are often nothing more than words with no basis in fact. The Dems love them and live by them. WE and our grandchildren will pay the bill. Vote them out and let's live with solutions that work with the best efficiency and cost to the people.

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