Proposed Juliette solar site could power 130 homes

awomack@macon.comJune 29, 2014 

A proposed Juliette solar energy site could soon be producing power for about 130 homes.

Lilburn-based Solar Support Works filed a Planning and Zoning application May 21 for a 1-megawatt site nestled between Ga. 87 and the Ocmulgee River, just north of Georgia Power’s Plant Scherer.

Monroe County’s Planning and Zoning Board approved the proposal last week.

A final public hearing is set for Tuesday night’s county commission meeting.

Commissioners will have the final say in whether the site is approved.

Pending the vote, Solar Support Works is set to buy 6 acres of a 103-acre tract owned by Camellia Land LLC on Camellia Plant Road. Attempts to reach homeowners in the area last week were unsuccessful. Each was mailed a letter from the county on June 2.

In May, Solar Support Works was awarded a 20-year contract with Georgia Power to sell solar power generated at the site, said John Kraft, a Georgia Power spokesman.

The contract is part of a Georgia Power program for small to medium solar sites which pays participants either 13-cents a kilowatt hour or on a sliding scale that starts just under 7 cents and increases based on the power company’s cost in generating power by other means, Kraft said.

Although there’s no state mandate, Georgia Power has a goal of procuring 900 megawatts from solar facilities by late 2016. It’s part of the largest voluntary program and one of the fastest growing solar expansions nationwide, Kraft said. About 30 solar sites already are at work in Georgia Power’s central region, which stretches from Hancock and Jasper counties south to Appling County.

The Juliette site is set to have 3,300 solar panels and will cost between $1 million and $2 million, said Shamus Hutchinson, who handles land procurement for Solar Support Works.

He said he hopes to break ground soon after receiving approval from the commission and to be generating power in about a month.

“We’re going to make great strides to get it up and operational as soon as possible,” Hutchinson said.

Solar Support Works selected the land in Juliette after searching in the lower half of the state.

“It was a fairly ideal location for us,” Hutchinson said.

The land met the requirements for Georgia Power’s contract program, and the land wasn’t usable for much other use, he said.

“One of the good things about solar is you can put it just about anywhere,” Hutchinson said.

Tiffany Andrews, the Forsyth-Monroe County Chamber CEO, said the site’s potential impact will be the in the form of tax proceeds going into the county’s coffers.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

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