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County OKs permit for 1-megawatt solar project near Tracy

Photo by Deb Gau Lyon County Planning and Zoning Administrator John Biren answered questions from Lyon County commissioners about a planned solar garden near Tracy.

MARSHALL — Lyon County commissioners approved a conditional use permit for a new solar project near Tracy on Tuesday. But even with a permit, there could still be obstacles to the project being built. It comes down to whether the project gets an interconnection agreement for the electricity it will produce, said county planning and zoning administrator John Biren.

“It’s a very likely project, but it’s not a guarantee at this point,” he said.

At their regular board meeting, county commissioners heard a conditional use permit request from Novel Energy Solutions, LLC to build a solar project under the Xcel Energy community solar garden program. The solar project would have a peak production of about one megawatt of electricity.

Biren said Novel Energy Solutions is a Minnesota-based company, and has worked on other solar garden projects in the area.

“This one would be down by Tracy, on property owned by the Fultzes,” Biren said. The project would be on land Novel would lease from Sheila and Jay Fultz in Monroe Township.

Novel Energy Solutions said the CUP request would be for a period of up to 30 years. Electricity generated by the solar project would be distributed into the existing electrical grid for Xcel customers who subscribe to a solar garden in their area. Subscribers would get credits on their electric bills over the 25-year life of the project.

Biren said the Lyon County Planning Commission held a hearing on the permit request last week.

“They did agree with the conditions,” including establishing an escrow account to decommission the solar project at the end of its life, getting permission to build driveways or access to the property, and putting up signs warning of construction activities, Biren said.

Biren said the solar project has not yet had an interconnection finalized. Each community solar garden needs an interconnection agreement with the company purchasing its electric power, he said.

Although the solar garden project would likely move ahead, there’s still a chance the interconnection could be an obstacle. But Biren said that part of the project was out of the county’s hands, and the solar garden also needed a CUP to proceed.

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