Report: Many Factors Contribute to NC’s Solar Renaissance

Another Measure to Block Advance of NC Renewables Law Falls

Nash County Recommending Approval of Solar Farm

NASHVILLE – Continuing a green energy gold rush, the Nash County Planning Board is recommending approval of another solar farm.

If the Board of Commissioners approves the plan after a quasi-judicial public hearing in May, the number of sunlight-to-power plants in the county will rise to around 15.

Solar farms were virtually unheard of in the area until about two and a half years ago when the units began cropping up seemingly everywhere.

The increasingly popular land use is enjoying a heyday of support as a new green initiative, County Manager Zee Lamb said.

“Economically, it’s a good deal for landowners because of the tax incentives involved,” said Nash County Planning Director Nancy Nixon.

Nash County’s newest solar farm, a proposed 44-acre facility, would be located on N.C. 58 between Wardrick and Simmons roads near Castalia. Strata Solar representative Louis Iannone filed the request for a special use permit on behalf of landowners and North Nash Farm LLC.

Developers originally asked for the permit in January, but withdrew the request after adjacent property owners complained about the close proximity of the proposed site’s construction entrance to an existing school bus stop. Developers will have to submit a satisfactory solution prior to receiving additional permits, Nixon said.

“They will have to work around the bus stop, maybe wait until the bus picks the students up each morning before bringing in heavy equipment,” Nixon said. “The developers will have to figure it out with the school system.”

The land is zoned for agricultural use, an acceptable zoning district for solar farms in Nash County, according to the county’s Unified Development Ordinance, which identifies a solar farm as “a facility used to convert solar energy into electric power for interconnection with the power grid for primarily off-site energy consumption.”

The facility would consist of four fenced areas with ground-mounted solar panel arrays and inverter equipment. County ordinances require structures not exceed 25 feet and six-foot high chain-link fence topped with barbwire.

Prior to approving the project, commissioners will have to decide whether the solar farm meets four criteria:

The solar farm must not be a danger to public health.

The solar farm can’t bring down property values.

The solar farm must be harmonious with its surroundings.

The solar farm must conform to established land development plans.

Prior to construction, developers must receive approval of a Sedimentation and Erosion Control Plan from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources; a driveway permit from the N.C. Transportation Department; and stormwater, zoning and electrical permits from Nash County.