Torch Clean Energy Seeks to Build Solar Farm-Data Center Combo in Chester County, VA

RICHMOND, VA — RichmondBizSense is first reporting that Torch Clean Energy, a renewable energy company based in Boulder, Colorado, has submitted planning paperwork for the construction of a combination solar farm and data center in Chester county, Virginia. The project will be located on 1,500 acres of a 1,700-acre site. The solar farm will produce 150 megawatts to power either one or two adjoining data centers.  The data center itself will cover approximately 300 acres and employ about 100 workers.

The facility has been tentatively dubbed the “Chester Solar Technology Park.” If successful, it will result in $2 Billion USD in investment for the county. Observers might remember the parcel as previously being central to the controversial project known as the “Matoaca Mega Site.” The project will be situated south of the intersection of Branders Bridge and Bradley Bridge Road.

“We see it as a very high-value opportunity with very minimal impacts,” said Chesterfield Economic Development Director Garrett Hart. “Data centers are the most tax-dense properties we can build. The solar farm is a unique opportunity, to have green power next to a data center, but it’s the data center that Economic Development is really interested in. The proposal of data centers on that property could give us the $2.5 Billion that we were looking for when we were looking for other megasite opportunities…it gives us the tax base we were looking for. Not necessarily the number of jobs, but that might be a better fit.”

“We think that it makes the Richmond area, and Chesterfield County in particular, an incredibly attractive location for what has largely been an industry that has focused its investment in Northern Virginia and Prince William (County) specifically,” added Torch Clean Energy President Jon Kilberg to RichmondBizSense. “This is impossible to do up there, and we think this will appeal to large data center customers.”

“The beauty to localities with projects like these is they don’t tend to take a lot of county services,” Kilberg said. “Facilities like this employ a few hundred people at most; they don’t negatively impact traffic; they don’t require construction of schools or large infrastructure investments by the county. They’re good neighbors and they pay taxes.”