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Lee Co. commissioners hear proposed amendment for solar zoning ordinance

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 2:06 AM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - On Tuesday, the Lee County Commission discussed a proposed change to the current code of ordinances that affects solar energy facilities.

An energy company called NextEra Energy has been a part of the Pinewood Solar project. The project intends to bring 300 jobs to the community, but it is directly affected by the zoning restrictions on the solar panels.

Environmental Attorney Jonathan Wells spoke as an outside counsel for NextEra Energy at Tuesday’s commission meeting to offer an alternative zoning option.

“There needs to be a 150-foot-wide buffer from the solar facility parameters. Where that can become a little bit problematic is that it doesn’t actually go to the intent of what is supposed to be buffered. What should be buffered is the actual solar panels, the inverters, that sort of thing,” said Wells.

NextEra Energy also proposed tax abatements as well as reducing agreements set in place before Sept. 18 of last year to be added to this amendment. There was a moratorium that was extended to Oct. 29 of this year so that commissioners could review a study done by Valdosta State University. The study was to determine the short-term and long-term impacts of financing the construction of large-scale solar energy facilities.

The amendment was tabled for two weeks by the commission to give the public and commissioners time to review the proposed changes.

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