What are the potential benefits communities and residents will experience from constructing a PV utility-scale solar power plant?
Solar provides power during peak hours when electricity demand is highest. Local solar power defers or eliminates the need to build other types of power plants or new transmission lines in the area.
A solar power farm is a multi-million dollar installation that provides tax revenue without consuming regional resources. Depending on the size of the solar facility (for example a 20 MW solar power plant), during the six to 12 month construction phase, about 25-30 jobs would be created. Depending on the size of the facility (for example a 20 MW solar power plant), and the operating lifetime of a plant (25-50 years of operation), five to six fulltime, skilled maintenance and security jobs would be created.
During construction there will be typical construction traffic and noise. However, since there are no major structures being built, the amount of heavy machinery is relatively limited.
The solar power plant does require numerous acres of land. However, OCI Solar Power seeks when possible to secure land that is often being underutilized, thereby adding economic value that was not previously being realized. After the useful life of the project, about 25 years, the solar panels can be removed and the land can be utilized for other purposes should the community desire.
What are the possible environmental issues that should be considered?
Prior to construction, the plant development team completes environmental studies and obtains all necessary permits including a Stormwater Management Permit. There are no emissions from the facility, and traffic for routine maintenance is relatively minimal.
What are some advantages to solar power versus other sources of sustainable energy like wind or hydroelectricity?
Solar is potentially the “greenest” of all renewable power. It does not produce emissions, and produces power during peak demand hours, whereas wind produces a large portion of its power at night when not as much electricity is consumed. In addition, the environmental impact on wildlife is minimal compared to wind or hydro power that have the potential to harm wildlife during the normal migratory or daily movements of the wildlife.
What types of communities are prime candidates for solar power plants?
Many communities are good candidates for solar power. Communities located in states with strong renewable and strong solar requirements are particularly suited to solar power. In addition, communities that are willing to work with OCI Solar Power on implementing appropriate zoning changes make for good partners. Most communities do not have zoning in place given the relatively new nature of utility-scale solar power plants, so communities will often collaborate with us to craft and adopt appropriate zoning ordinances.
If a community wants to consider constructing a solar power plant, what are the first steps to take?
We are glad to meet with a community’s Planning Board or Economic Development team to talk about appropriate steps for developing a solar power plant. Some initial considerations are suitable land, community support and appropriate zoning ordinances.
How does OCI Solar Power solicit community input? How does OCI Solar Power inform and educate local communities?
We work with the local community from the earliest stages of developing a solar power plant. Typically, we engage the local community even before selecting a site. Some of the early interaction may occur directly with the Planning Board or the Economic Development team. During the development process we participate in educational and community forums as either part of a required zoning process or optional forums such as a summer educational series at the local library. We also provide access to educational information on its web site and works with the local press to make sure communications are effective and timely.
Is a solar power plant noisy?
The sound from the solar power facility is usually very minimal and unnoticeable to most. The sound at the edge of the property is similar to the noise inside an average car traveling at about 65 mph on a highway with the windows closed.