MONTANDON — Two Northumberland County townships have granted conditional use for a solar farm to be developed within the boundaries of the townships.
Following a public hearing held earlier this week, Supervisor Vaughn Murray said the West Chillisquaque Township supervisors granted a conditional use designation to Northumberland Solar I LLC. Murray said East Chillisquaque Township also recently granted the conditional use status to the company.
“That’s the very first step in the process,” Murray said, of the conditional use designation.
He noted that a solar farm is not a permitted zoned use in either township. As a result, the company needed to be granted conditional use status to move forward with development.
Murray said the company will have to submit land development plans to the townships before construction can begin. Before land development plans are submitted, the company must take other steps in the process.
“From the company’s standpoint, one of the next things they need to get is permission from the power grid to tap into it,” he said. “That process could take months.”
Murray said Northumberland Solar I is a joint venture between Dakota Power Partners and another business partner.
In order to apply for conditional use to develop the farm, Murray said the company had to provide documentation that it had signed leases or purchase agreements for land in the township. While the company met those requirements, Murray was not sure how much land the company has acquired for the project.
According to the company’s conditional use application, Murray said the solar farm is planned to generate 70 megawatts of power.
“That’s enough electricity to power more than 15,000 homes annually,” Murray said. “They will market that... They will be part of the power grid. Everything on the power grid is sold on the wholesale market.”
In other business, Murray said the West Chillisquaque Township supervisors approved a land development plan which could pave the way for a Dollar General store to be developed at the site of the former Jim’s Used Cars, along Route 45.
In July, Murray confirmed that SVRE Enterprises LLC purchased the property and was looking to develop the store.
He said the land development plan was approved contingent on the owners meeting a number of conditions.
Among those conditions, Murray said stormwater modifications must be made and a highway occupancy permit must be obtained from PennDOT.
In addition, he said the owners must purchase right-of-way which is owned by PennDOT in the area.
“That’s out of the township’s hands,” Murray said. “It could take three months, it could be five years (until the right-of-way purchase can be completed).”
Once the conditions of the land development plan are met, Murray said the owners must go through some other reviews, including by the county, before construction can start.
“It could be a couple of weeks, months or years,” Murray said. “It is all in the hands of the developer.”