BRUNSWICK COUNTY, North Carolina: County officials are grappling with how to handle and possibly strengthen regulations for solar farms in Brunswick County.
During the Brunswick County Commissioners’ meeting on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) night, the board was presented with proposed amendments to the Unified Development Ordinance regarding solar farm requirements, which multiple people spoke against. The amendments included a maximum solar farm size of 50 acres, a financial guarantee for solar panel decommissioning and an extensive decommissioning plan that would’ve had to be updated every three years.
Commissioners voted to send the amendments back to the county planning department to be reworked after multiple residents and Keith Herbs with United Renewable Energy, which has been involved with multiple Brunswick County solar farm projects, expressed concerns over the regulations and claimed infringement on individual property owners’ rights.
Peter Key, a resident of Oak Island and a real estate agent, said along with affecting property owners’ rights, the regulations would drive away “clean energy development” and “hinder solar investments that boost our local economy.”
Nine solar farms have already been approved and are in the process of being built in the county. An additional two solar farms, one 30-acre farm and another 48-acre farm, were recently approved by the Brunswick County Planning Board.
Commissioner Pat Sykes, who has voiced concern over the growing number of solar farms and has sought to regulate them, supported the proposed amendments, while the remaining commissioners did not.
Commissioner Mike Forte said he believes other counties in the state are looking at how Brunswick County handles the solar farm situation.
“I don’t want to be the one that restricts property rights and I would hope we come up with the mode the other 99 counties say, ‘wow they did it right,’” Forte said. “Let’s come up with something that is right the first time before we go voting on anything.”