• 63°

Rockwell solar farm close to completion

ROCKWELL — People got an up-close look at the construction of a solar farm Friday outside of Rockwell.

O2 Energies’ solar farm is being constructed on 20 acres of land off N.C. 152 next to a rock quarry a couple of miles west of Rockwell.

Students, public officials, business leaders and residents from around the area heard from the people behind the project before taking a quick tour of the site and learning a little about how the farm will work.

Once completed. the farm will have 17,000 solar modules that convert the sun’s energy into electricity. The electricity will be sold to Duke Energy to use on its energy grid, according to Joel Olsen, president of O2 Energies and a North Carolina native. Construction is being done by Charlotte-based Narenco.

The solar modules, which are about 3 feet wide and 4 feet long, sit at an angle on metal stands that can withstand 90 mph winds and face south/southeast. All of the electrical conduit is underground.

Plans are to have construction done by mid-December, and the farm will produce energy for 25 years.  Olsen said about 100 people are involved in the construction process.

The 4.25 megawatt site will generate enough electricity to power over 500 homes, Olsen said. In one hour of sunlight, four solar-modules together generate one kilowatt hour of electricity.

“For every kilowatt hour we generate, we make about 6-and-a-half cents,” Olsen said. Each year, the farm can generate up to 6.4 million kilowatt hours.

Olsen said the use of solar power can mitigate the rising cost of energy.

The solar modules generate DC electricity, which is then converted to AC electricity. Duke installed electrical poles at the site, meaning the energy generated at the farm can go directly to the grid.

The site will produce $20,000 in property-tax revenue each year, Olsen said, adding the farm will not make noise or produce any waste or smell. Sheep and cattle from T and D Farms will be used to maintain the landscape.

The land is owned by the family of the Rev. Gary A. Weant. Weant reached out to O2 Energies about using his family’s land in a positive way. Weant said the land has been in his family for six generations. It was previously used for timber, hunting and farming, he said.

Olsen said Weant did a lot of work to gain support for the project from neighbors and the community. Without Weant’s efforts,Olsen said, the project wouldn’t  have been possible.

“These projects really can’t be done without the support of the community,” Olsen said. “Our goal is to maximize the local impact of every project we do.”

O2 Energies plans to partner with local schools to bring renewable energy to the classroom, he said.

Todd Mauldin, owner of T and D Farms, said the project is good for contractors, farmers and the local economy.  Mauldin also owns the land grading business that cleared the land for the solar farm.

Robert Van Geons, executive director of Rowan County’s economic development organization, said the solar farm brings innovation to the county. “It’s a real pleasure to have a project like this here that is engaging the community,” he said.

Jonathan Byrd, with Duke Energy, said the company is committing over $500 million for additional solar facilities.

“We see solar energy as very much an increasingly important part of our portfolio,” he said.

O2 Energies has solar farms in 10 counties across the state producing enough energy to power 10,000 homes, Olsen said.

He said North Carolina is way ahead of other states in the Southeast when it comes to solar energy. He urged people to support extending the state’s investment tax credit  for renewable energy that expires at the end of 2015.

Comments

Education

Local student surprised with horse-drawn ride home from school

Local

Pedestrian hospitalized after being struck by police car

Local

Torch Run returns to Rowan streets, raises money for Special Olympics

Crime

Fish arcade company drops suit against Rowan County Sheriff’s Office

Crime

Man faces kidnapping, assault charges after woman escapes at Webb Road Flea Market

Local

Natoli promoted to assistant county manager, will retain human resources director title

Education

Attendance restriction lifted for RSS graduation ceremonies

Business

Rowan Chamber of Commerce will host in-person Power in Partnership on Thursday

Business

Rowan EDC will undergo name change, alter board requirements with updates to bylaws

Nation/World

Israel strikes Gaza tunnels as truce efforts remain elusive

Nation/World

Supreme Court to take up major abortion rights challenge

Nation/World

Biden boosting world vaccine sharing commitment to 80M doses

Crime

Man charged for stowing away on Norfolk Southern train, impeding railroad operations

Local

Group will protest treatment of Georgia woman during 2019 traffic stop

Crime

Man overdoses at Piedmont Correctional Institute

Crime

Sheriff’s Office: Two men escape from jail, found in bushes on Fulton Street

Ask Us

Ask Us: When will North Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue be resurfaced?

Local

Political Notebook: Rowan’s lawmakers pass 140 bills into the opposite chamber before deadline

Local

Police chief to present use of force policy; city manager to present 2021-22 budget

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on charges of felony larceny, possession of stolen vehicle

Coronavirus

CDC director says mask turnaround based solely on science

News

Catawba College hosts three in-person commencement ceremonies

Local

With high case loads causing numerous staff departures, Child Protective Services seeks more positions

Education

Livingstone College graduates celebrate ‘crossing the finish line’ during commencement celebration