Community discusses possible thousand-acre Sumter Co. solar farm

Community discusses possible thousand-acre Sumter Co. solar farm
Residents at a public hearing on October 8, 2019, for the proposed Sumter County solar farm. (Source: WALB)

AMERICUS, Ga. (WALB) - Thousands of acres are being considered for a solar farm in one Southwest Georgia county.

Americus Solar LLC has been watching eight parcels of land in Sumter County for the past two years.

On Tuesday, the company heard the concerns from residents on this possible addition.

There’s been a lot of interest in solar farm production across the state and this project in Sumter County would be a $500 million dollar investment.

In Tuesday’s meeting, there were many people both for and against its production.

Though the company is still evaluating the size, thousands of acres in Southeast Sumter County could be covered in solar panels.

Area where the proposed solar farm would be in Sumter County.
Area where the proposed solar farm would be in Sumter County. (Source: WALB)

But it’s got to get approved by commissioners first.

On Tuesday night, dozens spoke for and against the project.

“Solar farm is a great way to start bringing more forward-thinking businesses into Sumter County,” said one man.

“There are some radiation issues with that water that hadn’t been brought out,” said another man.

Americus Solar LLC gave a presentation before the public hearing, promoting the $35 million in property taxes.

“The solar installation of this size, despite what’s been said would have to have a negative impact on property values,” said one woman against the solar farms.

The company highlighted the 500 construction jobs.

“Five-hundred to construct it, OK. But after that, these people are still unemployed,” said one man against the project.

The company also mentioned a reduction in sediment runoff.

Some people are mainly concerned with the size of the project.

“If you grant the condition use for the entire parcel, you have given them more than what they have represented to you that they want,” said one man.

“If this project were for, say 300 acres or so, a more reasonable amount, I would have no objection. But it is just too big, it’s taking too much land out of production and it will cost the county too much money in the long run,” said one woman.

While other people said clean energy is the bright side of the project.

“Cleaner, sustainable energy, less pollution in our rivers, additional local jobs, an increase in our tax base,” said one man in support of solar farms.

“Things are changing nationally for our energy mix and this is just one symptom of what’s going on and I think it’s an exciting one for Sumter County,” said another man supporting solar farms.

You can vote on what you think about the solar panels in WALB News 10′s Marilyn Parker’s Facebook poll.

How do you feel about a 10 thousand acre solar farm coming to Sumter County, GA?

Posted by Marilyn Parker WALB on Tuesday, October 8, 2019

So how is the company responding to these concerns? They didn’t get a chance to answer them Tuesday night, but here is what they did tell the audience.

They expect the production of this solar farm to help with residents’ electricity rates.

The senior manager of development said it will build the foundation for a career that will stay in high demand and have tremendous opportunities for the state.

“It also helps the county to keep jobs here and provide careers in the fastest growing industry in the country,” said Matt Leving, the senior manager for development.

Matt Leving, the senior manager for development
Matt Leving, the senior manager for development (Source: WALB)

Leving said the diversity of this business will bring in tax benefits that outweigh the current agriculture and changing the use.

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