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Meeting on proposed solar farm gets heated

Many doubted the claims of O2 owner, Joel Olsen, who said a solar farm would benefit the community. ...residents noted that the solar farm would not reduce their electric bills, and said they feared the value of their property would diminish if a solar farm were within view.

Zebulon residents push back against energy company

ZEBULON - During a meeting last week, about 40 Zebulon residents grilled executives of a Charlotte-based energy company that's hoping to build a solar farm on Pearces Road.

The company, O2 Energies, says it plans to buy about 15 acres at 2129 Pearces Road if the landowner, Chad Ray, can obtain a special use permit from the Wake County Board of Adjustment that would allow for a solar farm. O2 hopes to build a 2-megawatt facility on about eight of Ray's 15 acres in order to harness the energy and sell it back to Progress Energy. Ray currently grows sorghum on the land.

On Jan. 8, the board of adjustment continued what some described as a contentious public hearing on Ray's special use request so that O2 Energies could disseminate more information about it's plans. But a Jan. 24 meeting of Ray's neighbors and O2 executives at the Zebulon Chamber of Commerce building was also heated at times.

Many doubted the claims of O2 owner, Joel Olsen, who said a solar farm would benefit the community. Olsen said it would add nearly $1 million to the tax base while producing no noise, smell, or pollution.

"This is about the best that... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Zebulon residents push back against energy company

ZEBULON - During a meeting last week, about 40 Zebulon residents grilled executives of a Charlotte-based energy company that's hoping to build a solar farm on Pearces Road.

The company, O2 Energies, says it plans to buy about 15 acres at 2129 Pearces Road if the landowner, Chad Ray, can obtain a special use permit from the Wake County Board of Adjustment that would allow for a solar farm. O2 hopes to build a 2-megawatt facility on about eight of Ray's 15 acres in order to harness the energy and sell it back to Progress Energy. Ray currently grows sorghum on the land.

On Jan. 8, the board of adjustment continued what some described as a contentious public hearing on Ray's special use request so that O2 Energies could disseminate more information about it's plans. But a Jan. 24 meeting of Ray's neighbors and O2 executives at the Zebulon Chamber of Commerce building was also heated at times.

Many doubted the claims of O2 owner, Joel Olsen, who said a solar farm would benefit the community. Olsen said it would add nearly $1 million to the tax base while producing no noise, smell, or pollution.

"This is about the best that could happen to the land other than letting it grow to forest," Olsen said.

But residents noted that the solar farm would not reduce their electric bills, and said they feared the value of their property would diminish if a solar farm were within view.

"I don't see how it wouldn't (affect property values)," said Cara Keys, a real estate agent who said she lives near Ray's property. "I just don't think this is the right place for a solar farm."

Patti Shaffer said she moved from West Virginia to a house on Dukes Lake Road in August. Shaffer said she picked it out specifically because her father, who she lives with, suffers from Alzheimer's disease and requires certain living accommodations. She says her father would be "really bothered" by the construction of a solar farm and the sight of it from his bedroom window.

"If I had known there was going to be a solar farm, there's no way I would have moved here," Shaffer said. "I could have gotten bigger bang for my buck somewhere else."

Olsen tried to ease concerns by noting that, after building at least seven other solar farms,"we have not found one disgruntled neighbor anywhere."

But his audience seemed unconvinced. After two hours of discussion, residents asked O2 employees to leave the meeting room so they could speak privately.

Logan Stephens of O2 Energies said the company has held similar meetings for residents who live near one of O2's seven other solar farms.

"But none were like this," Stephens said.


Source: http://www.easternwakenews....

JAN 30 2013
http://www.windaction.org/posts/36051-meeting-on-proposed-solar-farm-gets-heated
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