Marion County approves $100 million solar farm mission close to Dunnellon

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Carlos E. Medina

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Marion County’s first solar farm project will move forward after the County Commission gave the go-ahead Tuesday to enable the facility on 1,100 acres of agricultural land near Dunnellon.

Riviera Beach’s Renewable Management Services unveiled the $ 100 million Dunnellon Farms Solar project during the Marion County Commission planning and zoning meeting Tuesday.

After lengthy questions about everything from the size of the wildlife openings in fences to the hurricane resistance of solar panels, the commission voted 5-0 in favor of granting a special permit.

The company plans to build a 74.9 megawatt solar array on the land next to the Withlacoochee River. While part of the property is in Citrus County, the solar panels in the town of Dunnellon and Marion Counties would take up about 300 acres.

Stacie Corbett, an attorney who represents Ronald and Sarah Cannon, said the couple were concerned about the impact of the project on their property value. The cannons own nearly 600 acres off the planned facility.

However, Corbett cited no evidence that similar projects had negatively impacted neighboring property values. John Taylor, director of project development for Renewable Management Services, also ignored concerns about property value, but noted that the facility would generate more tax revenue than it would if it remained agricultural.

Recently, the Alachua County Commission turned down a proposal for a 643-acre solar farm near Archer on concerns that it could affect property values. The commissioners voted 3-2 against the project.

Taylor said the facility will not cause long-term changes to the property.

The system uses no water, produces no emissions and works automatically, so that no on-site employees are required. The only time people will be on site are maintenance and quarterly inspections, Taylor said.

There are also no noisy machines on the property.

The only noise that is made comes from fans on four devices that are on the property.

“It’s not a new technology anymore. There are currently 85,000 megawatts installed in the US. I know it’s new to us in Florida,” said Taylor.

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The construction consists of installing fences around the area of ​​the solar modules and countersinking galvanized steel rods into the ground to mount the modules.

“This has no impact on the floodplains. When it comes to decommissioning, just pull out the steel poles and bring the land back to its original state,” said Taylor, adding that the Florida Department of Environment has already given approval for the plan have.

The poles are driven 6 feet into the earth, leaving 14 feet above the surface. Taylor said the systems could handle winds of 130 mph and trees and bushes would surround the slab field and obscure it from view.

“Since it is not a harmful use, I cannot imagine that it would adversely affect the neighboring property,” said Commission Chairperson Kathy Bryant.

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The project also still has a lot to do with approval. Companies like Renewable Management Services lay the foundation for the project and then work with a utility to fund the expansion. You do not currently have a contract with a utility company.

If successful, the power plant could go into operation sometime between 2022 and 2023.

Kingston Properties currently owns the land for the proposed location. Kingston is tied to William Stavola. Kingston bought the property from MJ Stavola Farms in 2007 for nearly $ 5 million.

Taylor said the proposed facility is located near a substation in the area that has the capacity for more electricity. Once the plant is up and running, it could produce enough energy to power 15,000 households.

– Contact Carlos E. Medina at cmedina@starbanner.com or 352-234-4787

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