The proposal will come before Laurinburg City Council Aug. 18, where they will set a public hearing. Public hearings are usually set for the following council meeting, which is Sept. 21.
The proposed solar farm – a 2.3 megawatt solar photovoltaic array – would be the largest in the state, according to energy officials.
The $20 million project would be a joint effort of four companies – power company Progress Energy, finance company MP2 Capital, developer Birdseye Renewable Energy and solar producer groSolar.
The city Planning Board unanimously approved conditional use permits for two potential sites – a 65-acre lot on U.S. 15-401 South between Academy Road and Leisure Road and a 32-acre lot on Stewartsville Road adjacent to U.S. 74 Bypass. Only one site will be used.
The companies expect to develop one of the sites within the next six months.
Brian Bednar, president of Charlotte-based Birdseye Renewable Energy and Frank Griffin, vice president of construction for groSolar, gave an overview of the project to board members.
"The nice thing about solar is there is no negative impact on the environment," Bednar said.
Griffin said the facility would offset an average of 4 million pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
He also said the plant would have minimal impact on the surrounding area as the solar panels are designed to produce minimal glare. Griffin also said there would be limited noise from the panels. A motor that moves the panels emits no noise and fans that cool the motors and panels can not be heard more than 10 feet away.
“groSolar is committed to delivering clean solar power in a cost effective way to as many consumers and businesses as possible. Global warming is a real threat to our way of life, and it’s extremely gratifying to be a part of this important project in North Carolina”
Griffin said the impact on Scotland County would be tax revenues from the facility and the use of local contractors to service the facility. The solar array will be unmanned, however, and not create permanent positions.
Lloyd Yates, president and CEO of Progress Energy Carolinas, said in a release development would be part of a larger move for Progress Energy to invest in renewable energy.
"We are committed to aggressively and responsibly pursuing renewable energy resources as part of a balanced approach to meeting our region's growing energy demand. This project will be the largest solar power array on our system and is a significant addition to our growing portfolio of renewable energy projects. I’m pleased to continue our long history of partnering with local communities to advance this innovative technology.”
Mark Lerdal, CEO of MP2 Capital says the construction process will create 30 to 50 temp jobs in Laurinburg.
“We believe that North Carolina represents an attractive market for solar development. We are pleased to partner directly with Progress Energy Carolinas on this exciting project that will enable them to deliver renewable energy to their customers."
“Our collaboration with MP2 Capital and groSolar brings a leading combination of technical expertise and ground level project oversight to support Progress Energy’s efforts to advance the use of renewable energy sources and protect our environment here in North Carolina,” Bednar said.
MP2 proposed this latest solar project in response to Progress Energy Carolina's request for renewable energy proposals issued in 2008. The company's request is designed to meet the requirements of North Carolina's Renewable Energy and Efficiency Portfolio Standard, passed in 2007. Progress Energy Carolinas selected MP2 Capital’s proposal after what it calls "an extensive and competitive evaluation process."