Solar Farm Could Come to Tyrrell County area

Published 7:50 am Monday, August 12, 2013

A solar farm could be coming to the Columbia area provided it clears all the regulatory hurdles.

“We are looking to build a 15 megawatt eight dc solar farm down here. It  will take about six months or so to build. We still have a lot ducks to get in a row as far as the Utilities Commission, the utility itself, and the Town of Columbia here,” said Neil Williams, a representative with SunEnergy 1, a company based in Mooresville NC.

Williams discussed details of the possible project in a meeting before the Columbia Planning Board on Aug 8.

Williams explained that SunEnergy 1 does have a history of building solar farms in North Carolina.  The company has two solar farm locations in Plymouth and in Bath.  Seven megawatts are currently being added to the project in Bath.

According to Williams, 15 megawatts of solar panels will create around 11 million watts of power.

“That is enough power to help two thousand homes,” he explained.

The project site is located south on 94 near a Dominion Power substation.

“Some of you will know it as Cooper Farms,” said Columbia Town Manager Rhett White.

The intent of the project is to get an interconnect with Dominion Power. SunEnergy 1 will own the land, and Duke Power will come in buy the project once it has been commissioned.

SunEnergy 1 has some of elements of the project already in house like engineers and electricians.

“We would hire within the community if we could.  But also we would need housing and hotels.We would buy all the equipment and everything we need here. It is a large infusion of money for the community,” said Williams.

A figure of $25 to $30 million dollars was given by Williams as an idea of how money would come into Tyrrell County due to the project.

Williams said that Sun Energy1 would be looking for construction workers, plumbers, and electricians from the local labor force.

Solar power is created from the DC Dominion inverter. The power is switched from DC to AC  where it connects to the Dominion grid.

“Once the project is complete who is going to benefit?Will it be business or residential?,” asked  Billy Hill.

Williams explained that the project is commercial so it will get tied straight to Dominion’s distribution lines.  Those lines would have an additional 15 megawatts of power pushed onto their grid.

Williams said that the project will have no effect on nearby telephones and television.

“How effectively will you be able to transmit power to the grid?,” asked Janet Walker.

Williams said that there is where the issue of interconnecting comes in.

“When we file with Dominion Power, they will come out and do an analysis of the fifteen megawatts on their lines. They will tell us what the cost will be,” said Williams.

Columbia Town Manager Rhett White explained that Columbia Planning Board was going to have to draft an ordinance regarding the project.

An ordinance on wind energy was drafted years ago.

“There needs to be something in place to permit a facility or farm of this sort,” said White.