Solar farm planned at King Mill might be moved

A solar power demonstration project planned in the King/Sibley Mill complex on the Augusta Canal might instead be built on nearby vacant property owned by the city of Augusta.

The 4,000-panel “solar farm” was proposed by the city and its Augusta Regional Colla­boration Project as a way to generate clean energy, along with revenue to advance the collaborative’s mission to redevelop the mill area into a university campus.

The Augusta Canal Au­thority, which owns the 50-acre mill property, wasn’t made aware of the solar plan until after its approval, however.

“Out of the blue, we got word that five acres behind King Mill was approved for a solar project,” said Dayton Sherrouse, the authority’s executive director.

Because the project would tie up the land for 20 years and might not be appropriate for an area under evaluation for redevelopment, canal officials suggested the solar farm be erected elsewhere, possibly a city-owned parcel just up Good­rich Street from the mills.

The renewed statewide interest in solar stems from the Georgia Public Service Com­mis­sion’s approval of a Georgia Power Co, initiative that would pay 13 cents per kilowatt-hour for solar energy.

The opportunity created a flurry of applications, including one at the mills complex.

Matt Kwatinetz, the director of the collaboration project, said putting the solar farm at 1735 Goodrich St. is a workable solution but
that the change would require approval from Georgia Power.

If a location change is not acceptable, a possible remedy would be to leave a transformer or small component of the project at the original approved site near King Mill, he said.

“We’ve met with the solar contractor the city was working with,” Sherrouse said. “As it stands right now, we’re looking to move it to the west of Sibley Mill on the existing city property.”

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