If you’ve driven down Highway 177 in Marston past the Rockingham Speedway, you have no doubt seen the sea of solar panels.
Approximately 26,000 solar panels will sit on a total of 40 acres owned by Claude Smith by the time the construction is completed, according to Tri-City, Inc.
Tri-City, Inc. recently entered into an agreement to partner with Birdseye Renewable Energy and Strata Solar for the construction and operation of a 5-megawatt AC solar photovoltaic (PV) array. Construction is expected to be completed by June. Once operational, the solar project’s energy output will be sold to Progress Energy Carolinas.
Tri-City, Inc. was founded in 1964 by owner and sole proprietor, Claude F. Smith, a life-long native of Richmond County. Since its inception, the company has constructed and owns a vast array of shopping centers, apartments, homes, clubhouses, golf courses, office buildings and commercial retail buildings for most major tenants. The results of diligent work and sound planning can now be viewed across 23 states nationwide in a variety of retail, residential, professional and resort development projects.
Birdseye Renewable Energy, a renewable energy project developer based in Charlotte, is developing the solar project with their partners Strata Solar, based in Chapel Hill.
“Tri-City, Inc. is proud to be associated with bringing the first solar plant to Richmond County,” said Smith. “We view this as a win-win for all involved, including our community which will enjoy a higher share of clean and reliable energy.”
An estimated 170,000 tons of CO2 emissions will be avoided over this system’s life, according to Tri-City, Inc. This is equivalent to planting nearly 4 million trees, saving 17 million gallons of gasoline, recycling about 540,000 tons of waste or replacing CO2 emissions from the annual electric use of 20,000 homes.
Solar energy allows utility providers to increase their power capacity sustainably and limit constructing additional power plants that are paid for by rate increases to the consumer. Thus, solar farms are environmentally and economically beneficial to North Carolina.
“Solar power is the energy of the future,” said Smith. “It is safe, clean and 100 percent environmentally compatible. “
Smith plans to offer his tenants the benefit of solar power by installing solar panels on the roof tops of Tri-City’s future shopping centers and distribution centers. If the power generated by the tenant’s solar panel system exceeds the tenant’s consumption, “our tenants will actually get paid through the process of net metering and reduce operating costs,” said Smith.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.