Massive Solar farm planned near Elizabeth City


Duke Energy's monopoly is about to get a little thinner:

Pasquotank County officials find themselves in a quandary over whether to welcome or discourage a proposed solar farm that would be one of the largest east of the Mississippi River. Adani Solar USA of Texas plans to build a 2,940-acre solar farm stretching more than four miles on agricultural land along U.S. 17 west of Elizabeth City. The site would operate as Birchwood Solar.

The project would lie within sight of a 104 turbine wind farm – the largest in the state – and could set Elizabeth City apart as a hot bed for renewable energy in North Carolina. The company’s application did not specify the projected megawatt production or the amount of investment, but a project in Currituck County of 500,000 solar panels on 2,000 acres produces 120 megawatts, which can power about 13,000 homes. The $250 million Currituck site generates about $225,000 annually in tax revenues.

I hesitate to say anything before the new General Assembly is sworn in come January, but this (could be) a prime example of how important flipping that Veto-proof majority is. Republicans are reactionary by nature, and no doubt conservatives are already planning to fight this record-breaking renewable energy project. It also demonstrates how important local government elections can be, and citizen participation in meetings:

Pasquotank County officials are considering changing its ordinance to limit solar farms to 250 acres, ensure their boundaries are at least a half mile from U.S. 17 and require that solar sites be at least a mile apart.

The planning board this week voted against the limits except for the half-mile set-back. The buffer would keep land open for other industries to locate along U.S. 17, the corridor that could become Interstate 87 from Virginia to Raleigh.

County commissioners will consider planning board recommendation later this month.

About 20 people spoke in favor of the solar project at Wednesday’s planning board meeting, a surprising show of support in a farming community. One resident opposed the development saying it would ruin the farmland and the scenic beauty for 30 years.

We'll have to wait and see, but in my experience, that 20:1 ratio of support will likely prevail with the County Commissioners. Fingers crossed...