03/19/14 — Solar farm plans advance in Fremont

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Solar farm plans advance in Fremont

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on March 19, 2014 1:46 PM

FREMONT -- The Fremont Board of Aldermen approved two measures at its meeting this week paving the way for a solar farm off Firetower Road.

The first measure amended a zoning ordinance to allow the town to vary required setbacks in the zoning code for solar farms. The change amended an ordinance put in place in February to allow solar farms in the town's agricultural zoning areas.

The proposed site rests in the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction.

The board also approved a conditional use permit for the site for Strata Solar to develop a solar farm and operate it.

Strata Solar spokesmen were on hand during the public hearing to answer questions from the Board and the audience as well as make presentations in favor of the use.

Fremont resident Keith Spivey wanted to know if the site would draw power from the power grid during construction or while operating.

"During construction, we will power our site with generators," Brent Neimann, a civil engineer with Strata Solar, said. "We have our own diesel generators that power our trailer and are used to charge batteries for our electric tools."

Neimann was on hand to answer technical question about the operation of the site. He said that the site puts all the power it generates into the grid and draws from a transformer where the power is put into the grid. The only electrical equipment on site is for the monitoring equipment, allowing Strata to check up on its sites without having any personnel assigned to work at the farms full time.

There is no official start date for the project but once construction begins it is expected to be completed in three to four months, Neimann said.

The board also held a public hearing to discuss the town applying for a Community Development Block Grant for $1.4 million for sewer improvements in the town.

The grant, funded through the North Carolina Department of Commerce, does not require a local match.

No comments were made during the hearing.

A second public hearing was set for a special session Friday, March 28 at 5:30 p.m. to allow the town to be able to meet the April 1 application deadline.

The grant would allow the city to make repairs to its lift station and to fix problems in the system allowing rainwater to flow into the sanitary sewer system, driving up sewer costs.