Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Changes could be coming to Brunswick County’s solar farm regulations

Solar farms in Brunswick County could face new requirements if approved (Port City Daily photo/FILE)
Solar farms in Brunswick County could face new requirements if approved (Port City Daily photo/FILE)

BRUNSWICK CO. — Brunswick County is considering strengthening its regulations when it comes to solar farms, and is currently seeking input from the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center and the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association regard to solar farms, and regulations.

The Brunswick County Planning Board is holding a public hearing Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. The meeting is being held by the Brunswick County Planning Board regarding the proposed revisions to solar farm requirements in the county’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).

The UDO serves several purposes according to the document, including promoting health, safety and general welfare of the residents of Brunswick County.

The UDO, which was revised and readopted in 2015, currently has few requirements for solar farms; the proposed changes would increase regulations. According to the UDO, a solar farm is defined as, “An area of land designated … for the sole purpose of deploying photovoltaic power and generating electric energy.”

Brunswick County provided Port City Daily with a preliminary revised plan, and it should be noted that things could change before the Planning Board’s public hearing.

As it stands now, the there are no size maximums for solar farms in Brunswick County, but if approved, the new regulation for restrict farm sizes to 35 acres maximum.

The setback requirements would also be expanded from the current one sentence, “Solar farms shall meet the minimum zoning setbacks for the zoning district in which located.”

The revised setbacks would be more specific.

Screening and buffering requirements would also be spelled out in the revised UDO if approved and maintenance and security plans were not included in the original UDO but now would be required for all solar farm facilities, according to preliminary documents.

One of the biggest proposed changes to the UDO would be the requirement of an extensive decommissioning plan which would be updated every three years, or upon the transfer of property. The new requirements would force the decommissioning of a solar farm if no electricity is produced for a continuous 12-month period.

While there have not been any specific problems due to solar farms, the county is being proactive in an attempt to ensure smart growth of the solar farm industry, according to Mike Hardgett, Brunswick County planning director.


Michael Praats can be reached at Michael.p@localvoicemedia.com

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