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Catawba commissioners cite reasons for rejecting solar farm

111321 Generic solar panels.JPG
David Boraks
/
WFAE
NextEra and Duke Energy are partners in the group that wanted to put solar panels on a site in southern Catawba County. The solar farm would have offset electricity for Wells Fargo.

Catawba County Commissioners say a proposed solar farm that would have supplied electricity to Wells Fargo was rejected this spring because it doesn't fit the county's vision for the site.

Back in April, commissioners unanimously rejected a request by Duke Energy and solar developer NextEra to rezone 635 acres off Hickory-Lincolnton Highway for a solar farm. But they didn't adopt a required statement explaining why or certifying that the vote was reasonable and consistent with local laws.

After developers asked the reasons for the rejection, commissioners responded this week.

On Monday, the board adopted a statement that cites concerns about water quality, noise and health and says a solar farm is not consistent with county plans for low-density residential development there.

The plan would have included the donation of a conservation easement on 125 acres to the Catawba Lands Conservancy, for a section of the Carolina Thread Trail.

Here is a list of concerns in the board's statement:

"The Catawba County Board of Commissioners finds the use of a utility-scale solar facility at this location to be an unreasonable request due to:

  1. The concern for future water quality of adjacent properties and the South Fork River;
  2. The concern over noise from inverters necessary for power conversion and their proximity to adjacent properties;
  3. Concern for health issues;
  4. Finding the request inconsistent with residential use and development pattern recommendations; and 
  5. It not being in the public’s interest."

See the full statement on page 130 of Monday's commission agenda.

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David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.