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When Residents Support Solar—Just ‘Not in My Backyard’

While the American public broadly favors expanding renewable energy, that support doesn’t always extend to the photovoltaic panels next door.
An array of solar panels in Oakland, California.
An array of solar panels in Oakland, California.Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Fawn Lake, a gated community in rural Spotsylvania County, Virginia, boasts expansive single-family homes with big yards and a nearby country club with an 18-hole Arnold Palmer Signature golf course. It’s a picturesque enclave, surrounded by sparkling lakes and rolling green fields that were once Civil War battlegrounds.

Soon, Fawn Lake will have a new neighbor: a 500 MW solar power plant, with an array of 1.8 million panels. In April, the Utah-based solar company S-Power won approval from the county board of advisors to build the largest section of its plant on part of the 6,350 acres of logging land adjoining the cul-de-sacs of Fawn Lake. And many residents aren’t happy about it.