200-acre solar panel project could be coming to Twiggs County

"I don't have reservations. I just want more answers," said Twiggs County Commissioner Donald Watson of a company called HelioSage's proposal to bring solar panels to the area.

It would be located just off of Old Richland Church Road, near I-16.

The proposed Richland Solar Center would be 200 acres and between 15 and 20 feet high. Director of Operations Andrew Foukal said the project would bring between 170-200 temporary construction jobs to the area and generate $4 million over 25 years.

He also said it could generate electricity for 4,600 homes, just over half of the county.

After 25 years, the panels could be removed, and the area could be used as farmland again. Foukal said HelioSage is looking to finalize a contract within a month, and that, if approved, construction would begin in the summer of 2014.

Watson says he'd like to have the project in Twiggs County but has several unanswered questions.

"My concern is that they're trying to set it up to pay no taxes and I'm not saying they are. I'm concerned that we do need to know the full scope of their intentions regarding local tax abatement," Watson said.

Foukal said it's possible that the land could be sold to the development authority and did not outline a financial guarantee to remove the panels after 25 years.

But he says the project can only benefit Twiggs County with tax revenue, jobs and clean energy.

"We need to let everybody know there's really no downside to this project. We have not been denied a local permit for any project to date, so we hope that's the case going forward," Foukal said.


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