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Putnam County earns high ranking for solar projects

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Putnam County has recently joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s SolSmart program to make it simpler for businesses and residential homes to go solar. This program helps the county to encourage solar energy growth by reducing the number of barriers that make it difficult to establish solar power systems.

Thanks to the efforts of Lisa Jackson and her team from the Planning and Development department, Putnam County has been designated a Silver SolSmart community and now has one of the highest rankings in the state.

This program has made it possible for SolAmerica Energy and landowner, David Erickson, to work together to build a solar farm on Pea Ridge Road.

Following the request by SolAmericaEnergy for conditional use of land located on Pea Ridge Road, the Putnam County Board of Commissioners gave the official go-ahead for the solar farm project that will produce about 2.8 megawatts of power that will tie into Tri County EMC’s existing power lines.

At the BOC meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 17, where the project was approved, Ryan Peters, an environmental engineer for SolAmericaEnergy, said the plans for the 25.5-acre plot of land are for 16.6 acres to be covered with solar panels and that the rest of the land would be used to hold the transformer equipment and serve as a buffer between the solar panels and the surrounding area.

He also said the solar farm would be the second one SolAmerica has built in Putnam County and would function mostly without personnel on the premises except for maintenance and repairs.

County Manager, Paul Van Haute, said that the county’s recent SolSmart designation will attract solar power development companies to invest in Putnam. He credits Lisa Jackson and the rest of the Planning and Development department for providing sound policies that helped the county earn the award. He also said the recent growth of solar farms in Putnam County shows a willingness for residents to welcome the industry into the county.

“I am very proud of Lisa and the Planning and Development team.Their yearlong efforts culminated with the Sol Smart Silver Award,” praised Van Haute.“The new solar farm on Pea Ridge will be the third solar farm in Putnam County and demonstrates the Putnam County is open to the solar business community, too.”