Supervisors approve solar farm

Published 12:32 pm Wednesday, February 19, 2020

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The Charlotte County Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted 5-2 to approve a request for a conditional use permit (CUP) submitted for a utility-scale solar facility in Red House during the board’s Feb. 10 meeting.

Wylliesburg/Red Oak Supervisor Kay Pierantoni and Phenix/Aspen Supervisors Donna Fore, cast no votes.

The request for the CUP came before the BOS in December but was tabled, citing more information needed.

Both supervisors Pierantoni and Fore said they needed more information on decommissioning and the impact fees associated with such a project before they could vote.

Decommissioning is the process of removing abandoned solar panels and remediating the land.

“I really think there are too many questions,” Fore said during the December meeting. “I don’t know why we should move forward at all until we have a lot of this cleaned up.”

Pierantoni wanted to know the exact costs that may be incurred before voting to approve the project.

“Before we approve it, we need to be aware of exactly what those financial numbers look like,” she said.

According to the Assistant County Administrator for Charlotte County Monica Elder, the solar facility in question is similar to the Moody Creek Solar project but is much smaller. Elder said the Moody Creek facility is a 150 Megawatt (MW) project, whereas the proposed Red House Solar project is only 5 MW.

The property, approximately 7.5 miles from the Town of Phenix, is in the community of Red House, just west of the intersection of Route 727 and Route 615 and is owned by Norman Reynolds and Elizabeth Miller.

According to the CUP submitted by Holocene Clean Energy of Raleigh, North Carolina, the Red House Solar Project includes the development of a utility-scale solar facility that will generate up to 5 MW of energy and connect to the Southside Electric Cooperative distribution lines.

The project will include the installation of solar panel arrays, inverters, electrical transmission lines, an electric substation, other electrical equipment, gravel access roads, fencing to secure the project area, and a battery storage system.

“In total, approximately 20,000 solar panels will be installed as a part of the project,” the CUP says.

Executive Partner Stan Allison with Holocene Clean Energy addressed the BOS on Feb. 10 for the third time to present the solar project and answer questions.

During his presentation, Allison noted the decommissioning rates in question by Supervisors Pierantoni and Fore were $197,017.

Allison also stated that Holoclean would make a voluntary one-time upfront payment of $25,000 to the county.

According to Allison, due to the size of the Red House Project, it is exempt from Machinery and Tools Tax.

Following Allison’s talk, Pierantoni presented to the BOS and Allison a packet of containing research she had conducted showing that decommissioning for the Red House Project should be more than the quoted $197,017 price.

“It should be $366,000, not $197, 017,” Pierantoni said. “It shouldn’t be this far off.”

Pierantoni further said she was concerned about the effects of the solar project and cleaning it up in the years to come.

“Do you want your children and grandchildren to be responsible,” she said. “I have to worry about the citizens and generations to come.”

According to Allison, reevaluations will be conducted every five years, and the cost of decommissioning could change.

“Decommissioning cost will be done every five years, and if the cost goes up, we will have to put up more securities,” he said.

Holocene Clean Energy’s website noted that in the project development process, Holocene works closely with both landowners and local stakeholders, including county commissioners, county planning boards, economic development authorities, permitting authorities and community members.

According to County Administrator Daniel “Dan” Witt county officials are currently awaiting a site plan for the project.

“If we have an engineer looking at this, I don’t think we should vote on this until we get all the information,” Fore said.

In September, the BOS approved a CUP application from SolUnesco and Apex for the Moody Creek Solar Project for the construction of a 150 MW utility-scale solar facility (equivalent to 25,000 homes worth of energy).

The Moody Creek site, owned by Devin Logging Company/ John A. Devin, Jr. and Armistead Tune Devin, is located on Route 47, approximately 1.4 miles east of the intersection of Highways 360/15 and Route 47.

The Moody Creek project will be constructed on property that is approximately 1,655 acres in size.

In total, approximately 555,000 solar panels will be installed after all project phases are completed.

Charlotte County is already slated to see the construction of a 15 MW solar farm, Twitty’s Creek Solar LLC, which has a proposed location of 1975 Highway 59 in the Drakes Branch area.