A new solar installation will be going up in the next few months in Polk County, joining its sister location right across the street on Highway 101.
The facility soon to be built by Hecate Energy will be going up on land owned by the Lewis family, who got unanimous approval last week for a Special Land Use permit from the county commission.
Hecate representative Andrew Boggs said that the facility will take up 10 of the 14-plus acres on the land.
“It’s a great location for a solar farm,” he said. “There are essentially no neighbors except for one to the north.”
Hecate Energy will be purchasing the land from the Lewis family, but won’t make the solar panels a permanent fixture. Should leasing agreements with electric generating companies end after 30 years, Hecate Energy can decide to remove the panels and turn the property back to its original use as agriculture land.
Boggs said his company will be making between a $1.2 to $1.4 million investment in the new solar farm for 10 acres of coverage.
It makes the third expansion of solar electricity in Polk County since the start of 2016. Rockmart and Cedartown’s facilities operated by Inman Solar in the cities industrial parks were expanded last year to increase their electric generation capacity.
The Lewis family also sought a Special Land Use permit to change the fencing requirements on the property, but lost the vote 3-2.
Hecate Energy sought to build a chain linked fence like the one across the street approved by the City of Aragon when the solar facility was put up several years ago.
The idea would be that natural vegetation from crops and planted shrubbery would block the view of the panel for any neighbors, according to Boggs.
“We want it to look like the one across the street,” Boggs said.
Commissioners decided against their plan in a vote held on Tuesday, April 25 on the Special Land Use permits. Hecate Energy will have to follow the covenants already put in place by the county for zoning and building requirements.
The company will also be paying partial property taxes for the solar farm as well.
It’s the first time the county will have a new solar farm built under new inspection fees as well. Last year when the project was first being considered, Building Inspector Brian McCray asked for an update to the cost for inspecting solar farms.
Previously the cost for an inspection would have been only $98, but after rule changes in June 2016 the price went up.
A base price of $150 for projects that are $45,000 or less was put in place, with an additional $4.50 will be charged for every $1,000 of estimated cost on a project following that.
Hecate Energy can expect to pay at least $5,400 for the cost of their new solar installation based on those prices.
The site will now join a growing list of farms in Polk County, that along with the 2 industrial sites in Cedartown and Rockmart also includes an installation at GEO Specialty Chemical in Cedartown.
During the last commission meeting, a Special Land Use permit was also approved for Hightower Falls to add a 10 foot by 16 foot storage shed and a new 24 foot by 45 foot cabin to be used by groomsmen during wedding events.
Steve Crook presented the commission with his plans to upgrade the groomsmen cabin, providing new amenities and a larger space for men in a wedding party to enjoy before ceremonies begin.