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Solar energy farm eyeing Fremont area

FREMONT — The Fremont Board of Aldermen approved a solar generation facility ordinance Tuesday that could pave the way for the construction of a new solar farm near Fremont.

Strata Solar is interested in building a solar farm in Fremont’s extraterritorial district that will also require the approval of a conditional use permit. A permit application will be presented to the board and a public hearing is planned during the board’s March 18 meeting at 7:30 p.m. The permit application will provide details of the project, including its location, which were not disclosed Tuesday night.

Louis Iannone, a site acquisition employee with Strata Solar, said that the project would create about 80 jobs during a four-month construction process. He also said that other solar farms are planned in the general area.

“It’s quite a big construction process,” he said. “So, they’ll be eating in your restaurants and shopping in your stores.”

Strata Solar is the largest solar developer in North Carolina and the sixth largest solar contractor in the nation, Iannone said. The Chapel Hill-based company employs 75 professional staff and has 50 solar farms in operation.

“We employ, on average, 1,000 employees across the state,” Iannone said.

The company typically builds 5-megawatt farms on 40 to 50 acres. The farms have 25,000 solar panels, with underground wiring, that are surrounded by a security fence. Each solar farm produces about $600,000 of annual net income.

“There will be some increased property tax, which demonstrates a step of progress for any community,” Iannone said.

Mayor Darron Flowers said the property tax will benefit Wayne County and not the town of Fremont.

The solar generation facility ordinance allows for the construction of solar farms in Fremont’s heavy and light industrial districts and within its residential, agricultural district. The solar farm must be at least 200 feet from a residence and at least 100 feet from any public right-of-way.

The solar facility is planned to capture and convert solar energy into electricity that will be sold to Duke Energy. Iannone said that 200 solar farms produce the amount of energy that’s equivalent to a nuclear power plant.


Interim town administrator Barbara Aycock told the board that she is seeking grant sources and other outside funding that will help the town pay for a $719,289 loan it needs to secure a $1.4 million Clean Water State Revolving Fund grant. The town has been awarded the grant but is required to provide matching funds. The grant would provide funding to replace aging sewer lines and to re-line the town’s lagoon, which has about three years remaining before the lining needs replaced, she said.

Aycock contacted the office of U.S. Rep. George Holding, a Republican representing the 13th District, and plans to contact state legislators to see if there is any emergency funding that would help the town pay its share of the project. She also said town officials need to decide whether to accept or reject the grant. A decision needs to be made in May.

“As we know, lagoons and sewer lines are needed in town,” she said. “Right now, we don’t need to go into any debt.”

The Board of Aldermen will have a public hearing during its March 18 meeting to discuss plans to apply for a N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Community Development Block Grant that could help with loan costs for the Clean Water grant.

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