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Effingham might get third, fourth solar farms

Effingham County commissioners have granted conditional uses for two more solar farms, which means the county would have four such facilities in all.

Ryan Sanders of Beltline Energy said his company would like to build the solar farms by the end of the year, one on a 449-acre parcel on Old Louisville Road and the second on a 124-acre parcel on Clyo Kildare Road.

Each farm would have solar arrays that move to follow the sun, and each would use 15 to 20 acres of the tracts, he said.

Sanders, whose company is based in Atlanta, said a number of hurdles still must be overcome before the farms can be built.

“I would hesitate to declare victory,” he said Monday.

He said his company must work with Georgia Power, banks and vendors before the deals can be finished and the farms built.

“It’s not unusual for projects to hit a killer bump in the road,” he said.

Effingham County’s first solar farm, by Inman Solar of Atlanta, is on 5 acres on Stillwell Clyo Road. Its solar panels are stationary; they do not follow the sun.

It produces 1 megawatt (MW) of power, enough to operate 120 homes.

A second, much larger farm, by Gregory Electric of Columbia, S.C., is being constructed at Lowground and McCall roads. Its panels will follow the sun, and it will produce 21 megawatts.

Beltline’s two solar farms would be smaller. Its goal is for the Clyo Kildare solar farm to produce 2.8 megawatts and the Old Louisville Road solar farm to produce 2.3 megawatts.

“We would very much like to build two solar farms in Effingham County,” Sanders said.

Beltline Energy brokered a compromise with neighbors who were concerned about possible fires and glare from the panels.

The solar farm on Clyo Kildare Road would have a 50-foot vegetative buffer and a 150-foot undisturbed buffer. The solar farm on Old Louisville Road would have a 50-foot undisturbed buffer.

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