Solar farm hearing is Monday

Published 10:50 am Wednesday, February 8, 2017

County supervisors in Charlotte will meet Monday at 6 p.m. to hold a joint public hearing with the planning commission to consider a conditional use permit (CUP) for a proposed solar project.

According to County Planner Monica Elder and county documents, Twittys Creek Solar LLC, if approved by the county, would be located at 1975 Highway Fifty-Nine outside Drakes Branch.

“It’s close to the transmission station,” said Red House/Cullen Supervisor Nancy Carwile during last month’s board of supervisors meeting. “They need to be close by because they’re going to put that power gained from the sun on to the grid.

Holocene Clean Energy is proposing the 15 megawatt solar farm, according to Elder.

“The proposed project would (occupy) approximately 70.9 acres that would be leased from property owners C.E. and Bonnie Hall, Donald A. and Margaret W. Barnum and William J. Hall,” Elder said.

The three properties, whose owners are seeking individual applications permitting the solar farm, total about 133 acres. According to surveys, a high voltage electric line spans two of the properties and abuts another.

The hearing will be held in the County Administration Building.

“According to the law for the planning commission, when a conditional use is set, it applies to any future solar farms,” Carwile said.

According to a sketch of the project provided by Elder, the project will include 59,248 polycrystalline modules.

“It’s a … new source of ‘green energy,’” Elder said in a previous interview, “providing power for the substation located across the road from the site. We don’t have a concrete construction cost yet. The primary employment opportunities would come during the construction phase of the project. There would be some property maintenance involved once the facility is established, but no full-time employees.”

According to a document titled “Opinion of Probable Cost For Solar Farm Decommissioning,” prepared by Ballentine Associates, P.A., of Chapel Hill, N.C., the cost to decommission the site would be $825,620. According to the document, the salvage value of the solar farm is $1.3 million.

Twittys Creek Solar is located on Ingleside Lane in Keysville, according to the sketch.

According to the county’s Zoning Ordinance, which was amended to include solar energy systems in July, systems and equipment associated with a solar facility may not exceed 25 feet in height.

“Utility scale solar energy systems shall be enclosed by security fencing not less than six feet in height equipped with an appropriate anti-climbing device,” the ordinance reads. “A vegetative buffer at least 4-feet-wide shall be established along the perimeter of the facility. Existing mature tree growth and natural landforms on the site shall be preserved to the maximum extent possible and may be used, in whole or in part, to provide the required screening if they provide adequate screening from public view.”

According to the ordinance, after completion of construction, noise levels measured at the property line shall not exceed 50 decibels, “unless the owner of the affected adjacent property has given written agreement to a higher level.”

The ordinance also addresses signage, site plan requirements and decommissioning.

“The hearing will be advertised as required and all adjacent landowners will be notified,” Elder said.