Pair of new solar farms on horizon in Rockingham County

Construction is underway on a 35-acre solar farm in Rockingham County, and work is expected to start soon on a separate project covering up to 30 acres.

Electricity from the two arrays — with a combined capacity of nearly 12 megawatts, enough to power about 1,600 typical North Carolina homes at one time — will be sold to Duke Energy under long-term power-purchase agreements.

The 35-acre project is on a tract now made up of forest and farmland at 5464 N.C. 135, east of N.C. 220 in Stoneville. Renewable Properties, a San Francisco-based solar company, is leasing the land from owner Willie Moyer Jr., according to documents filed with the N.C. Utilities Commission.

The site is zoned rural agricultural. The Rockingham County Planning Board approved a special use permit for the solar farm in June 2018. Atlanta-area firm United Renewable Energy is overseeing engineering and construction for the 6.56 megawatt facility.

Both companies also are involved in two similarly sized projects underway in Columbus County, west of Wilmington.

Renewable Properties announced Wednesday it had purchased the Stoneville and Columbus County projects from Cypress Creek Renewables of Durham. All three farms are expected to begin delivering energy by fall. The second project is planned south of the intersection of N.C. 87 and Hancock Road in Wentworth.

The 5.5 megawatt array will include about 10,000 panels on 20 to 30 acres of farmland, said project manager Patrick Foley from Durham-based Strata Clean Energy.

The company is leasing the site, which includes a tract owned by Lisa Ashby, and another belonging to Ronald and Melanie Barham, according to tax records. Both are zoned rural agricultural.

The Wentworth Town Council approved a special use permit for the solar farm in September 2018.

Construction is expected to begin in late summer or early fall, Foley said.

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