Planners evaluate solar SUP | News

ODEC Senior Power Supply Manager James Wright said the proposed project would serve REC members in Orange County and the surrounding community. It would connect to existing REC lines and is purposely sized to avoid having to create a new substation.

“Solar is clean energy. It doesn’t use much water, doesn’t create much waste, there’s not much demand on infrastructure, it operates quietly and at end of project, you can return land to ag use,” he said.

Electricity normally begins with a power plant which created electricity which it pushes to substations and on to homes and businesses, he said. “The transmission piece has gotten to be the expensive side of the business, he said. The benefit of a distributed solar portfolio is that by locating it closer to homes and businesses, less transmission is required, saving users and the electric cooperatives money, he explained.

REC’s Paytes substation, which feeds the local electrical distribution system, is located approximately 1.5 miles southwest of the project site and, if the project is approved, would provide the infrastructure necessary to connect the solar facility to the distribution grid, Wright said.

In describing the proposed project, EDF Renewables Project Development Manager Jeff Machiran said the project would only use about 35 acres of the subject property and have minimal impact on local resources. The panels would not exceed 15 feet in height and would tie into existing power lines. A fixed-knot agricultural fence would be erected around the property instead of a chain-link fence in keeping the rural aesthetic of the area, he said. Supplemental plantings on Catharpin Road would help screen the low-profile solar panels.