The company building the region’s largest solar farm in Pulaski County is asking for amendments to its special use permit to incorporate improvements recommended by the developers.
Hecate Energy, a Chicago-based company, wrote in a news release last week that it has since conducted further “geotechnical and engineering evaluations that have resulted in a refinement and improvement of the preliminary site plan,” which was originally approved by the county Board of Supervisors in late January.
The amendments to the permit include the addition and removal of parcels of land and a change in the equipment needed to operate the solar farm, according to the release.
Some prospective sites for solar panels were removed, because the land was too steep and sinkholes not previously seen before further inspection were found by developers following approval of the original site plan, according to Hecate spokesman Jay Poole.
He also noted that some panels have been removed or reconfigured in the updated plan in an effort to reduce the visual impact of the farm on the viewshed.
Additionally, another landowner has agreed to lease a 750-acre plot of land to Hecate, Poole wrote in an email.
“It is a very attractive parcel for this initiative, as the panels will be almost totally contained in a valley, largely out of view,” according to Poole.
The total acreage of the project has yet to be finalized, but the company expects it to be close to the 2,700 acres originally approved by the county, Poole wrote. There are approximately 20 landowner partners involved in the project, but that number could go up as the project details are finalized.
Equipment updates are also listed in the new plan due to improvements in technology, according to the release.
“A newer generation of solar panels allows us to generate more electricity with fewer panels. That, in turn, means Hecate can be more selective about the exact location of the panels within the facility because there will be fewer panels. And the ones that are erected will be more efficient,” Poole wrote.
The company also wants to change the way it delivers the power generated from the farm to the purchasers, American Electric Power.
The solar-generated power was set to go through AEP substations before being converted into usable energy, but the updated plan calls for it to go directly into the existing power lines using a “line tap,” which requires different equipment than what was originally needed, according to Poole.
The update to the SUP will be taken up by the county Planning Commission at a public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12, and by the board of supervisors at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 25.