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No date set for meeting for commissioners to discuss solar farm regs

As The Messenger went to press Wednesday no date had been set by the Grady County Commission for a work session to discuss regulating solar farms in the county.
Last Tuesday night, the board unanimously approved a 60-day moratorium on solar farms in the county after a potential developer approached county officials about construction of a solar farm on approximately 500 acres of land here.
Erring on the side of caution, commissioners voted on the moratorium to give officials time to research the issue and learn how other communities are regulating the blossoming new means of generating electricity.
The moratorium resolution states that for 60 days the county is “temporarily stopping the construction, issuance of a building permit, soil erosion permit, or any other permit issued by Grady County for the installation of any solar panel or solar energy equipment of any kind, on any tract of land in the unincorporated portion of Grady County, Georgia which has not already made application for the appropriate building permit(s) on or before Feb. 21, 2017.”
According to county administrator Carlos Tobar, an out-of-state firm has been in negotiations with a local property owner about leasing property to build a solar farm.
During the discussion last week, Commissioner T.D. David questioned whether the firm already had a contract to sell the power to another utility and Tobar indicated they did not. David questioned if a firm would actually build a facility without already having an agreement to sell the electricity generated by the solar farm.
Vice Chairman Ray Prince said it would need to be located near a large electric transmission line. He also commented, “They are not the most attractive things in the world.”
However, commissioners were interested in the additional tax revenue that would be created from the personal property and equipment that would be added to the tax digest.
Chairman Elwyn Childs said in his initial discussions with Decatur County officials, which is home to two large solar farms, he learned that companies are leasing land at a rate of $600 per acre for 25-years terms.
In addition to the visual appearance concern, Prince said depending on the solar farm’s size it could disrupt the natural movement of wildlife in the county, which is something he opposed.

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