Gillisonville solar farm moves forward
Subheadline: Project expected to power 12,000 homes
A proposed solar farm in Gillisonville that could power 12,000 homes continues to move forward.
Last week, Jasper County Council unanimously approved the second reading of a rezoning ordinance that will bring to the county a 150-megawatt farm. The project will be in two phases, with each phase being 74 megawatts.
Developed by Moffett Solar, the property consists of about 433 acres of untouched wetlands and 1,092 acres of uplands to be used for the project.
The site will be off Grays Highway and parts of Possum Corner Road. The building process of each phase will be about six months.
County Council assured the public it has done its diligence and believes the farm will benefit the county.
“It was under careful, careful, careful consideration we took this project,” Councilwoman Barbara Clark said. “I would be the first one to go against it if I thought in anyway it would cause you any harm. Solar energy is here to stay.”
To help get a better handle on solar farms, council members visited one out of state.
Kate Schaefer of the Coastal Conservation League applauded the county’s efforts.
“Thank you for taking a lot of thoughtful time with this project,” she said. “We believe site-specific impacts to natural resources and the consideration for working farms and forests have been addressed respectfully and well with this project. I believe y’all will be looked to across the state …. This is a great step forward.”
Schaefer said the Coastal Conservation League believes the site selection was done well because of the preservation of the wetland areas.
About nine pods will be secured by a fence that will leave the wetlands undisturbed.
Schaefer said solar energy is a cleaner energy source that helps “wetlands continue to do their job” in helping filter and slow down storm water.
The plan calls for a 100-foot vegetated buffer along the highway and part of Possum Corner Road. A 50-foot buffer is proposed along 3,000 feet of Possum Corner Road. And a 50-foot agricultural buffer is planned for forested properties greater than 5 acres and in the Rural Preservation zoning district.
The buffers will prevent people from seeing the panels or equipment from the road.
Also, a 200-foot buffer is planned for residential areas.
The solar panels will be less than 10 feet tall.
Once completed, there’s expected to be four employees on site. The project expects to
be a $100 million investment.
A third reading is set for Sept. 19.