North Carolina community seeks (more than) $250 million solar facility


Adani Solar, a Tier 1 solar module manufacturer per BNEF, is seeking to build a 2,940 acre solar facility in Pasquotank County, North Carolina. Permits have been filed for the Birchwood Solar project, however local commissioners has put multiple moratoriums on the project – and all solar development – while they decide how to move forward.

While Adani had submitted a permit application, it was deemed incomplete and returned to Adani, per Planning Director Shelley Cox. Director Cox told Adani the facility lacked a stormwater drainage analysis and a decommissioning plan. Hammett said Adani would have been grandfathered under the current rules if it had submitted a complete application.

No documentation was available online.

A recent town hall meeting support was overwhelmingly in favor of the solar project – as long as some of the benefits stayed local. Comments ranged from noting that the tax benefits would significantly help the county’s struggling schools, that clean energy would attract large corporations looking for cheap electricity, that the facility might possibly unseat the Amazon Wind Farm US East as the county’s number-one property taxpayer, and more.

One pair of family members, per, said they see solar power as a way of allowing her and her sister to go on a few more shopping trips together. Teresa Boyd said,

Clean energy…I want to live a little longer

There was valid pushback on the tax density of the facility relative to industrial or large commercial structures. For instance, it was noted that a 200 acre solar farm generated $64,000 in annual taxes, while a local WalMart – on significantly less land – generated $226,000 in taxes. The nearby 120 MW Currituck County solar facility generates $225,000/year in tax revenue.

Also noted was that the facility would take up a large chunk of the county’s currently identified 5,000 acres of usable industrial land. One person observed that the land wouldn’t be usable for 30 years for farming, and that their views of ‘scenic beauty’ would be ruined.

For perspective, a 500 MW facility on 6,000 acres is in development in Spotsylvania, Pennsylvania.

Pasquotank County officials are considering changing the county’s 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. This past week, the planning board this week voted against the limits except for the half-mile set-back.

Per, some residents are pushing back. “Any limitation is saying we don’t want you here,” said Elizabeth City resident Joseph Persico at the meeting.

Pasquotank County commissioners will vote on the solar power project on Monday, November 19.

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