Before we can have a meaningful discussion on the merits of this project, it’s probably best to describe exactly what is being proposed so everyone is on the same page. The details here are those provided by Wilson Solar LLC.
Who is building this project?
Wilson Solar LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Birch Creek Development of St. Louis, Missouri, is planning a facility on Jones Road in Venango Township, just north and west of Wattsburg. Plans call for an 80 Megawatt utility scale development occupying approximately 1129 acres. Utility scale or grid scale are terms used for large solar projects designed to feed their output directly into the grid.
Where is the project to be located?
The project is laid out on 15 parcels of property west of Wattsburg Road owned by six total landowners. Current zoning is Agricultural (A-1), Industrial (I-1) and Residential (R-1). Project setbacks are 50 feet in A-1 and 150 feet in I-1 and R-1). There will be a six foot tall vegetative visual buffer and inside that will be an eight foot chain link fence. There will also be staggered rows of evergreen trees as a buffer. Access will be from Wattsburg, Jones, Hill and Fritz Roads.
What equipment will be located there?
There will be 25 transformers, 25 inverters, 2054 strings of panels and a substation to connect the project to the grid. The panels at maximum tilt will be 17 feet tall. The panels are on aluminum racks mounted on I beam supports driven directly into the ground. All new power lines inside the facility will be underground.
Construction is expected to take nine to twelve months, however construction of the substation depends on Penelec which is currently working on a backlog of over two years. The project is expected to have a lifespan of 35 years after which decommissioning will take place and all equipment will be removed. Wilson Solar will “provide evidence of financial assurance for decommissioning in the form of a performance bond, surety bond, letter of credit, corporate guaranty, or other form of financial assurance as may be acceptable to Venango Township”
There were some confusing and sometimes seemingly contradictory descriptions in the information provided, but it gives you a general outline of the project. A number of items need to be addressed in more detail and will be in another article.