CLAY COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — Solar energy has become popular in areas where ample land is available and now Clay County commissioners are considering a 2,200-acre solar farm to be located just south of Petrolia.
A public forum Thursday night, Oct. 14, allowed for residents to get a better understanding.
The project is still in its early phases and so far a formal application for a tax abatement has been submitted.
Solar panels could one day blanket a stretch of open land in Clay County.
“The benefit is no pollution for the production of electricity and the panels will last a very very long time,” Managing Member of Metersky Energy LLC Ross Metersky said. “There’s really not much needed in the form of operations.”
The 2,200-acre property located in-between Highway 79 and Highway 148, just south of Petrolia, is being considered for a solar farm.
The first step is the creation of a reinvestment zone and a tax abatement agreement.
“Once they get the abatement in and they can go to their investors and say ‘Okay, here’s what we’ve got in Clay County. Do you want to invest there?’,” Clay County Judge Mike Campbell said. “The value of the land will go from about just under $4,000 to around $250,000 so that’s a substantial increase to our valuation of the property.”
Inside the Petrolia High School auditorium, county and company officials broke the project down.
Metersky said a big draw for this location is access to the high voltage power lines.
“The lines that we’re looking into run right through much of Clay County,” Metersky said. “So access to the power lines to take the power to the market is very important.”
The farm would provide just two full-time jobs and Campbell said this could be positive for the county’s tax base.
“Whether they sell the electricity or not, we don’t care, but you have the potential to sell 300 [megawatts] so we’re gonna tax you on that,” Campbell said. “The hope is as we can bring in more commercial property, that we’ll be able to lower the tax rate for everyone.”
A project in its infancy that could grow to substantial economic proportions.
Next up, the county and the company begin negotiations on the tax abatement. Metersky said without that, they can’t afford to come to Clay County.