Element Power downsizes North Carolina solar project

Element Power is scaling back plans for a N.C. solar array.

Element Power is scaling back plans for a N.C. solar array. 

Element Power has decided to cut back — for now — on initial plans for one of two 40-megawatt solar projects it proposed to build in North Carolina.

Portland-based Element Power has asked the N.C. Utilities Commission to approve a 15-megawatt project in Beaufort County that had originally been proposed at 40 megawatts.

Scott Hawken, project manager for the two solar farms, says Element has decided to take a stepped approach to the Beaufort project. He says it makes more economic sense to build that farm in phases.

It may end up as large as initially proposed, he says. Element still has the 400 acres available. But the company will build the 15 megawatts first at the Beaufort Solar Farm and then decide whether to expand it.

This does not affect the company's plans for a 40-megawatt project in Union County, Hawken says. The commission approved the proposed Rocky River Solar Farm between Monroe and Waxhaw late last month.

Hawken says no power-purchase agreements have been signed yet for either project. Beaufort would sell power to Progress Energy. Rocky River would sell power to Duke Energy.

Hawken says construction could start late this year or in early 2014.

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