It does not take an Einstein to realize that solar energy is the wave of the future, according to the company that wants to place a solar array on city of Laurinburg property.
Charlotte-based Birdseye Renewable Energy is seeking a lease agreement with city that would allow it to operate a “photovoltaic power array” for an initial period of 20 years with the right to extend the initial period for up to three additional terms of five years at an annual rent of $700 per acre, according to the resolution drafted by the city. The annual rent will increase by 2.5 percent during the initial term and during any additional terms.
The proposed array is a five megawatt AC power array.
The land behind the city’s waste water treatment facility that is to be used for the solar array will now undergo an upset bid process, said interim City Manager Harold Haywood.
“We will give any other potential entities the chance to upset the bid (made by Birdseye),” Haywood said. As long as another entity does not come along and outbid Birdseye, it is likely that the project will move forward.
Brian Bednar, president of Birdseye said the city would benefit in several ways from the solar project.
“I often equate it to owning land under a Walgreens,” Bednar told council members on Tuesday. “You will be the landlord and we will be making payments to pay rent to the city. Other benefits include property taxes and the fact that you will be able to reduce the amount of power needed from Progress Energy.”
The drive toward solar energy in North Carolina began with the passage of Senate Bill 3 in 2006 when utilities companies were given the green light to pursue renewable resources.
Bednar said that, with global competition growing and costs of solar energy production declining, research indicates that solar energy will be a $1.2 trillion industry worldwide within six years.
Laurinburg Mayor Tommy Parker agrees with that assessment, saying that if the project moves forward it will be an indication that the city is progressive.
The solar array will be tied directly into the city’s power grid, Parker said.
“That allows us a benefit that would not normally exist with a solar array (that’s tied back into the power company).”
The US 74 project, in operation since April 30, delivers energy directly to Progress Energy’s grid. It is contracted to do so for 20 years.
“With this project, it’s a source of energy for the city that is right here and that is clean,” Parker said. “And there is the revenue source from the community that comes from leasing the land.”