SunEdison and Golden Crescent Investment are planning to use large solar panels to capture the sun’s energy and convert it to between 10 and 20 megawatts of electricity.

The generated power will be sold to Duke Energy Corporation through a 20-year contract signed by the companies. It is expected the solar power will be sufficient to power more than 2,600 homes.

In May 2008, commissioners granted a $2 million incentives package for the solar farm. However that was for a specific location that SunEdison and Golden Crescent Investment could not buy or lease. County Manager Robert Hyatt said the two firms’ decision to find a new location likely could alter any incentives package proposed for the solar farm. The project is expected to be a total investment of $170 million, Hyatt said.

Guy Cornman, Davidson County planning director, said SunEdison and Golden Crescent Investment still need to get a “certificate of need” from the N.C. Utilities Commission and an erosion control plan approved by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The rezoning permit that commissioners approved allows the property to be used only as a solar farm.

Company officials told commissioners they intend to begin construction in June 2009. They are contracted to start selling the renewable power to Duke Energy by 2011 when new state renewable energy requirements go into affect for many utility providers.

Hyatt said the county has not given any money to the firms yet through the original incentives package and that SunEdison and Golden Crescent Investment would need to discuss any new incentives plan with the county economic development commission. Last year, a new state law was passed which allows for renewable energy projects to be eligible for property tax refunds of around 80%. If the EDC board comes to a new negotiation with the companies, it will present its recommendation to commissioners.