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Planners OK solar farm in eastern Lincoln County

Land owners and farmers in rural eastern North Carolina are also leasing out their land to companies that are installing solar farms to sell energy to the utility grid. Here, Antonio Hope installs the solar panels in the solar farm in St. Paul, N.C..
Land owners and farmers in rural eastern North Carolina are also leasing out their land to companies that are installing solar farms to sell energy to the utility grid. Here, Antonio Hope installs the solar panels in the solar farm in St. Paul, N.C.. MCT

A planned 129-acre, $50 million solar farm in rural eastern Lincoln County would be in harmony with the area and not hurt the value of nearby properties, the Lincoln County Planning Board ruled in unanimously recommending the project Monday night.

Atood LLC, a Charlotte-based developer of solar farms, plans to develop its first Lincoln County project on the west side of Mariposa Road about 1.5 miles south of Old Plank Road.

The Lincoln County commissioners, who have final say, plan to vote on a permit for the project Monday night.

Atood LLC has seven solar farm projects in Cleveland County totaling 20 megawatts, or enough solar power for roughly 2,000 homes, Brian Adams of Atood LLC told the Observer Tuesday.

Atood’s Lincoln County farm, to be called Fire Solar I, would produce 28 megwatts, Adams said. Because of floodplain restrictions, the solar farm will be developed on 90 of the acres, he said.

Owners of the parcels that form the property are Larry and Elizabeth Cloninger and William and Judy Miller.

As required by Lincoln County, solar panels and security fencing will be at least 50 feet from property lines and road right-of-ways. The land slopes inward due to a stream that bisects the property, and that will make the panels even less visible from the nearest roads, Adams said.

Atood anticipates the life of the project to be 50 years.

Atood also is pursuing three solar farm projects in Rutherford County, Adams said.

In March, the Lincoln County Planning Board also unanimously recommended a 40-acre east Lincoln solar farm planned by a Virginia company formerly known as HelioSage Energy. The county commissioners unanimously approved a permit for the project later that month.

HelioSage became Coronal Development Services LLC after Coronal Group LLC announced that it acquired the majority of HelioSage Energy’s assets.

Coronal plans to build and operate the farm east of the N.C. 16 Bypass near unincorporated Lowesville. The company has a lease option with landowners Gary and Janet Duckworth for the farm, which will be called Freemont Solar Center. The site is south of the Shoppes at Waterside Crossing retail center.

The farm will generate enough electricity for approximately 1,000 average U.S. homes.

Marusak: 704-358-5067;

Twitter: @jmarusak

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