More restrictive solar facilitiy rules on the way

Published 9:34 am Thursday, June 9, 2022

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By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

Davie County is a step closer to establishing a new process for approving solar facilities prior to the Aug. 3 moratorium expiration.

County Planner Andrew Meadwell told county commissioners  that the planning board – which devised the new rules – believes that the county has reached its peak in the number of acreage used for such facilities.

He said the county has no applications or inquires on file concerning new solar development.

One problem identified by planners is that the companies that build such facilities often change hands. Of the eight companies given permits for solar sites on some 600 acres of Davie land, six have already changed ownership.

“That was a concern of the planning board. We don’t know who we’re dealing with when it comes to potential risks … like the decommission. Who’s going to be your dancing partner at the end of the night, that sort of thing.”

The new rules will require much more of the companies, including environmental impact analysis and state permits before applying for a rezoning.

Any such requests received would have to go through two planning board meetings, as well as two county commission meetings.

“These are very complicated,” Meadwell said. “The pressure to make a decision that night, in some cases, was unbearable.”

There would also be requirements of the solar company to advise the county of ownership changes, to regularly prove that it meets all county, state and federal requirements.

The county is expected to vote on the new proposal either at the board’s July or August meeting.