Proposed 80-megawatt solar farm would be NC’s biggest

A proposed 80-megawatt solar farm in Cumberland County would be North Carolina’s biggest to date if the $144 million project is approved by the N.C. Utilities Commission.

The Hope Mills solar farm was proposed this week by Innovative Solar Systems, a 3-year-old company in Fletcher that is developing more than 600 megawatts of solar farms to connect with Duke Energy’s power grid. The 450-acre project will be located on a site owned by Barker Gallberry Farms under a long-term lease for 20 years, with two 5-year extension options.

The solar farm is expected to be completed next fall and begin generating electricity in November 2015. Innovative’s application said the racking system may rotate to efficiently track the sun for maximum solar exposure.

Previously, the state’s largest solar farms have been proposed at 75 megawatts. Three such projects, all designed by Chapel Hill’s Strata Solar, are still under development and are planed for Rutherford, Granville and Duplin counties.