Apple plans new Catawba County solar farm
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Charlotte, N.C. — Apple plans to build a new solar farm about 50 miles northwest of Charlotte.
The city of Claremont approved on Monday a development agreement with Apple to annex land into the city for the new farm, the Hickory Record reported.
Apple would invest $55 million to develop the 100-acre, 17.5 megawatt solar farm. The land for the farm is outside Claremont city limits. Catawba County lists the value of the land at more than $1.4 million. Apple plans to have a grading permit submitted for the property by the end of the year, pending acquisition of the land and other terms of the development agreement, the Record reported. The project is expected to be completed within five years of its start date.
News of the project was welcomed by environmental group Greenpeace, which urged North Carolina utility regulators to support policy under which utilities reimburses owners of renewable energy sources for the power they produce.
“This investment is not only good business for Apple, but also valuable to all North Carolina customers as it reduces the need for Duke Energy to build more expensive power plants that cause rate hikes and pollute our air and rivers,” Monica Embrey, a Charlotte-based Greenpeace Energy Campaigner said in a statement. “North Carolina’s Utility Commissioners should recognize that very real value of solar in the avoided cost docket they are currently considering so that innovative companies like Apple can have certainty that they will be fairly compensated for their investments in clean energy, and stay motivated to continue investing in North Carolina."
The solar farm project is expected to create 75 indirect jobs during construction. Claremont City Manager Doug Barrick said Apple agreed to hire locally if possible.
Under North Carolina law, 80 percent of the appraised value of a solar energy electric system is excluded from the city’s tax base. Barrick said the total appraised value won’t be known until after construction is finished.
The Apple solar farm in Claremont would be the company’s third Catawba County solar farm. Apple already has a solar farm at its Maiden location. Documents filed in 2013 with the N.C. Utilities Commission by SunPower Corporations Systems transferred to Apple the rights for construction of a 20 megawatt farm in Conover.
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