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After pipeline feud, Virginia nonprofit aims to reunite community with solar

image credit: A broken "no pipeline" sign rests outside a home in Union Hill, where residents are divided over Dominion Energy's plan to build a compressor station for the utility's Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

A weeklong boot camp in Union Hill, Virginia, trained 10 area residents on the basics of installing rooftop solar.

Richard Walker never misses an opportunity to broadcast what he calls his $64,000 question.

Last Friday was no different.

“How can we have a community solar program here where we save everybody money?” the burly 61-year-old boomed to an audience of more than 30 renewable energy enthusiasts gathered in Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church’s basement Fellowship Hall. “Is somebody going to answer that?”

Not yet, but perhaps soon.

Neighbors in this tiny rural community 70 miles west of Richmond have fractured over Dominion Energy’s plan to build a compressor station on wooded acreage off Highway 56. It’s a crucial piece of infrastructure for the giant utility’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would bisect Virginia for roughly 300 of its 600 miles to move hydraulically fractured natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina.

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