A perfect fit: EnergyUnited touts new Farmington solar facility

Published 11:59 am Sunday, April 30, 2023

By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

FARMINGTON – It was a perfect fit.

EnergyUnited has operated an electrical substation off Pudding Ridge Road for some 50 years.

Across the private road was a 50-acre field, mostly cleared and mostly flat, and most importantly, owned by a willing partner.

Add to that the electric cooperative’s desire to provide more electricity without the use of fossil fuels and the pieces fell into place.

On April 20, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the Perendale Solar Farm.

The project wasn’t without challenges. Some nearby residents at Pudding Ridge protested, but the project eventually received county commission approval. Then supply chain issues delayed the project even further, said Thomas Golden, EnergyUnited chief executive officer.

Current Energy United CEO Thomas Golden with past CEO, Wayne Wilkins. – Photo by Mike Barnhardt

“But good things are happening,” he said. “We’re starting to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, something we think is important to our communities.”

The 8.2MW facility will generate enough energy to power approximately 1,400 homes annually.

“We want to do this in a way that is sustainable and affordable.” He looks up on the cloudless, warm morning. “As long as the sun is shining, we’ve got a supply. It’s pretty awesome. This investment helps us minimize costs.”

He thanked community partners that helped get the project approved. “It really is a community effort. I’m excited about providing safe and reliable energy.”

LaQuisha Parks

“Today marks a new chapter in the history of EnergyUnited,” said LaQuisha Parks, vice president of energy services and corporate communications. “The Perendale Solar Farm is a testament to EnergyUnited’s commitment to solar.”

She thanked the property owners, Charlie and Sandy Howell, as well as Davie officials.

“We celebrate the beginning of a new era in energy production in Davie County.”

Brett Alkins, EnergyUnited’s chief operating officer, gave a brief history of the electric cooperative in Davie County. The company also operates a solar farm near Taylorsville, he said, as well as harnessing gas emitted from the Iredell County Landfill.

“We’re always searching for these types of projects,” he said.

The company studied some 80 substations. “Farmington rose to the top. It had capacity and ideal land in close proximity,” Alkins said.

The project will include the installation of 15,000 solar panels, with 70-80 people installing 350 tons of steel, said Julian Erfurth, US chief executive officer for hep, which was selected to construct the facility.

Dr. Max Walser

Dr. Max Walser, EnergyUnited board president, closed out the groundbreaking ceremony.

“One of the things I’m so proud of … we really have a culture at EnergyUnited that is community supported. We believe when we work together it will build a better and brighter future for our citizens. We believe our customers value what we’re doing.”

Construction is expected to last about a year, with the facility becoming operational in 2024.

Property owner Charlie Howell talks with EU board member, Edgar Cartner.