Solar farms seem to be cropping up as fast as corn on Sussex County farmland. Applications for four projects are currently in the county land-use process, and one has been approved within the past two months.
Three conditional-use ordinances were introduced during Sussex County Council's May 10 meeting for solar farms: One from Sunrise Solar for a 57-acre parcel on the north side of Fleatown Road and west of Clendaniel Road near Milford, and two from Turning Point Energy: a 36-acre parcel on the east side of East Trap Pond Road near Georgetown and a 25-acre parcel on the west side of Gravel Hill Road near the Route 9 intersection near Georgetown.
Public hearings for the three applications will be scheduled at future Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission and county council meetings. Solar farms are not a permitted use in AR-1 agricultural-residential zoning districts and require passage of a conditional-use application.
Those are in addition to a conditional-use application filed by Freeman Solar for a 351-acre, 75-megawatt photovoltaic electric generating plant facility with more than 116,000 solar panels on parcels east and west of Calhoun Road south of Milford. Public hearings are scheduled on the application including May 12 before the planning & zoning commission, and county council Tuesday, June 14.
On March 22, county council approved a conditional-use application filed by Broom Solar Partners for a 3-megawatt solar farm on 35 acres of a 72-acre parcel on the north side of Frankford School Road near Frankford. The farm will connect to a Delaware Electric Cooperative transmission line on the road feeding to the Omar substation.
Also, a 25-acre parcel has been aside for a solar farm at the Sandhill Fields Sports Complex off Route 9 in Georgetown.
Delaware Electric Cooperative has several projects in the works as well.
Construction will begin this year on the 4.5-megawatt Heimlich Solar Facility that will power about 900 Sussex County homes, farms and businesses. The 35-acre facility is being built along Mile Stretch Road west of Greenwood. Once completed, the facility will feature nearly 16,000 individual solar panels. The project is being managed by EDF Renewables Distributed Solutions, a developer of solar and battery storage projects in North America.
The cooperative has signed agreements to purchase power generated at four new solar facilities to be built near Clayton, Harrington, Felton and Milford.
The cooperative's nearly 40-acre Bruce A. Henry Solar Farm near Georgetown has been providing members with renewable energy since 2012.
In July 2011, Sussex County became a pioneer in the solar field. The 400 panels located adjacent to the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center near Georgetown save the county an estimated $58,000 a year in utility costs.
In May 2017, Allen Harim Farms began operation of a 6-acre, 1.57-megawatt, 4,992-panel solar farm near its processing plant in Harbeson.