HAMLET — A Florida company that wants to build a solar farm on a 200-acre plot off U.S. 74 East will appear before City Council members sitting as the Board of Zoning Adjustment on Tuesday.
ESA Renewables of Sanford, Florida, has similar farms in more than 20 other North Carolina locations, most of them in the eastern part of the state, and says confidently on its website that Hamlet “will soon be home to ESA Renewables’ latest solar installation.”
In 2016, Hamlet approved the building of its first solar farm in much the same area, said Gail Strickland, Hamlet’s city clerk and zoning administrator. Construction has not begun, Strickland said Friday, because the company said it was awaiting improvements in the solar panels before installing them.
Richmond County currently has six solar farms, said County Manager Bryan Land — one of those being a 5-megawatt farm on his family’s land between Rockingham Dragway and Beaverdam Church Road on U.S. 1. It was developed in 2015 by Chapel Hill-based Heelstone Energy, LLC.
The Rock Farm — completed in 2013 by Strata Solar — is located nearby, just behind the long-idle speedway off N.C. 177. According to the company’s website, the 6.65 megawatt farm generates 9,975 megawatt hours of electricity per year, enough to power 771 homes.
There is also a 50-megawatt site in the Derby area, a small farm on Crawford Road northeast of Ellerbe, as well as one each on County Home Road and in Cordova.
The new Hamlet farm would be built near the site of the old Coca-Cola bottling plant and across U.S. 74 from Unique Stone. Strickland said the company wanted to use only 25 to 35 acres of the 200.
ESA Renewables describes itself on its website as “an alternative-energy provider focused on delivering turn-key commercial and industrial photovoltaic projects to customers worldwide.” Its more than 500 installations include solar farms in Italy, Chile and Spain.
In 2016, the company was named No. 9 on industry magazine Solar Power World’s list of top 500 such companies in the United States and Canada.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]