About Sunlight Road Solar
WHAT: A new, 50-megawatt solar farm being built in Washington Parish, Louisiana.
WHERE: The Sunlight Road Solar farm will be located on private farmland in Washington Parish.
We selected this location after analyzing other suitable sites and using selection criteria including:
- Avoidance of impacts to sensitive natural resources and habitat
- Access to existing transmission system with capacity
- Landowner interest in leasing for solar
- Land that is conducive to solar development
- Utility interest in renewable energy from this region
WHY: Solar energy is an abundant, sustainable source of zero-carbon electricity generation.
Community Benefits: Once in operation, Sunlight Road Solar will provide significant benefits to the community and people of Washington Parish. These benefits include:
- Generation of 100 percent clean renewable energy
- Creation of hundreds of construction jobs
- Approximately $1-1.5 million in sales tax paid directly to the Parish to support schools, roads, the Sheriff’s department, and other local priorities
- Approximately $10 million in property taxes over the life of the project
- At the end of the solar farm’s useful life, removal of all equipment, allowing the agricultural land to be used by future generations
Good Neighbors: We are committed to continued community and stakeholder engagement during the construction and operations of the solar farm. Please reach out to us with any questions or comments.
In addition, our site plan includes the following to specifically address community concerns about potential visual impacts of the project:
- 50-foot setbacks from public roads
- 150-foot setbacks from residential property lines
- 300-foot setback from Sunlight Road Baptist Church
- Visual screening through natural bamboo trees along adjacent residences and roadways
How much energy will the project generate?
The project’s capacity is expected to be 50 megawatts (MWs) and it is expected to generate enough energy to power more than 12,000 homes per year.
When will the project begin construction?
Sunlight Road is expected to begin construction in mid- or late 2022 and become operational in 2023.
How big is the project?
We expect the project’s equipment to utilize approximately 285 acres.
What is the expected life of the project?
How does the local community benefit from the solar farm?
There are several ways the community is expected to benefit from the solar farm. During construction, we expect the project to generate approximately 200-300 construction jobs. In addition, the project is expected to require a full-time on-site operations and maintenance position. The Parish is also expected to receive income in the form of sales tax, permitting fees, increased real property taxes from change in land use, and personal property taxes from the installed solar equipment.
Will the project employ anyone from Washington Parish?
We plan to source workers from the Parish to the extent commercially possible.
Why did you choose Washington Parish as an area to build a solar farm?
There are several factors that influence where we build a solar farm. The location of a solar farm must be close to transmission infrastructure, such as substations and/or transmission lines, which have the capacity to add additional electricity to the grid. There are a limited number of locations which have the necessary infrastructure and capacity for additional electricity that also have usable land nearby. Solar developers generally prefer land that is cleared and relatively flat. We seek to avoid land that is environmentally sensitive, such as critical species habitats or wetlands. Although Washington Parish doesn’t have regulations surrounding solar installations, we would likely still would have been interested in developing a site in this area if the Parish had an established solar ordinance.
What permits do you have to obtain in order to build the solar farm?
As part of the planning and development of all of our projects, we plan to comply with all local, state, and federal permit requirements. Examples of permits the project may be required to obtain include the following: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for wetland permitting, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality for Stormwater Permit, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for access and utility crossings, Washington Parish for Special Use Permit (if established by an ordinance) and Commercial Improvements Permit.
Does the construction and/or operation of the solar farm cause changes in drainage patterns? How will you mitigate impacts to the landscape?
Solar projects have a low ground coverage – the panels sit on steel piles and therefore do not use concrete pads which would cover the surface of the property. The property is therefore similar to a pasture once it has been built, with grass being the main land cover for a large percentage of the project area. We try to avoid grading where possible, leaving existing drainage patterns in place and allowing for better sediment control. During construction, we expect to use best management practices to manage stormwater, including maintaining vegetation coverage, constructing silt fences, and straw waddle lines. We must also put in place a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), which has standards and guidelines that must be followed during construction to mitigate any stormwater issues that might occur. After construction is finished, we plan to reseed the property to ensure there will be a vegetative cover underneath the solar panels, helping to reduce any erosion.
Do solar panels and associated equipment include any toxic materials?
Solar panels and associated equipment do not pose a risk to public health.
Will the solar farm be able to withstand hazards such as hurricanes and high winds?
The project will be designed to withstand 134mph wind speeds.
How do you maintain vegetation after the project is built?
We will reseed the project area once construction is complete. Seeding the site with native grasses helps to stabilize and regenerate the topsoil for the life of the project. We also manage the grasses by mowing as needed and do not anticipate the need to use pesticides, herbicides, or sterilants.
Who is responsible for mowing under the panels?
We will hire a subcontractor who will take care of grounds maintenance during the operations of the solar facility. This person is in addition to the full-time employee who maintains the project and will be hired locally if possible.
Do you wash the panels with a cleaning solution? Will washing the panels deplete groundwater?
We expect that rain will generally adequately wash the panels.
Visual and Neighbor Impact
Will we be able to see the solar farm when we drive along Sunlight Road or Highway 16?
We plan to install a vegetative screen or use existing vegetation to help screen the project along neighboring residential properties and roadways.
How do you remove the solar facilities after operations?
Our leases require the removal of all facilities, including those that are underground. We will provide a removal bond to the landowner and deliver a decommissioning plan from a construction company for the removal of facilities at the end of the project’s operational life.
Is the land usable after the project is decommissioned?
Yes – the solar project has a limited long term impact to the land since the ground coverage is low with steel piles being the main component in contact with the ground. Grasses planted after construction help keep the soil stabilized and prevent erosion. After decommissioning, the site will be reseeded again.
D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments (DESRI) is a leading renewable energy developer, owner, and operator.
We work with local partners to develop solar projects in close coordination with our home communities. We have a history of collaborating with local partners and landowners to respond to their individual concerns.
In conjunction with industry and academic experts, we have created construction and management techniques that help to reduce environmental impact, as well as improve and maintain soil health.
Our design and procurement strategies focus on using advanced solar panel and racking technologies to help maximize production and minimize project footprint.
Rancho Seco Solar II, Sacramento County
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