Commissioners approve Gold Hill solar energy farm

  • Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2013 12:15 a.m.

SALISBURY — Commissioners approved this year’s second proposed solar energy farm Monday, and one county leader said he sees more area solar farms on the horizon.

Commissioners gave a 4-0 thumbs up to Sunlight Partners LLC conditional use permit for a 37-acre ground-mounted solar energy farm in the 400-block of St. Peters Church Road in Gold Hill. The system is expected to produce four megawatts of energy.

Vice Chairman Craig Pierce said Monday the open, and — in the eastern part of the county — shallow, stretches of Rowan County make solar energy farms an ideal candidate for companies looking to create renewable energy.

“I’m glad they’re here,” Pierce said. “I hope they fill up the eastern part of the county and the western, too.”

Dialogue between commissioners and project managers who were sworn in to answer county leaders’ questions revolved mostly around the basic issues of noise and signage.

Project managers assured commissioners they would provide appropriate signage around a constructed fence line and the noise would be minimal.

But for commissioners it was nothing new.

In April, the board voted unanimously to approve a similar solar energy farm in the 3400 block of Earnhardt Road in Rockwell.

That property, owned by Gary Weant of Dallas, N.C., is expected to host a 3.5-megawatt AC ground mounted photovoltaic solar farm that would generate electricity for the Duke Energy grid.

The growing popularity of renewable energy, Pierce said, could lead solar energy farms to become a stout industry in the county and state.

“I honestly think it’s going to be one of the large economic engines of North Carolina as time goes on. Because of mild winters, there’s no snow getting on the tiles; they have basically a year-round opportunity to generate power and because our land cost is so low,” Pierce said.

“Hopefully they come to Rowan County and change that farmland use to industrial and raise the tax base.”

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

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