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Mon, Oct. 21

Hackberry solar plant back to P&Z

KINGMAN - A 1.5 mega-watt photo voltaic solar plant is back on the agenda, this time as a zoning use permit instead of a rezoning request. The item was continued from July's Planning and Zoning Commission meeting after a number of residents and some commission members expressed concern over rezoning the 40-acre lot north of Interstate 40 and east of Hackberry Road, from agricultural residential to heavy manufacturing. The commission will reconsider the item at its meeting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday at the County Administration Building, 700 W. Beale St.

The main concern voiced was that rezoning the property heavy manufacturing would set a precedent for other developers to do the same.

Currently, heavy manufacturing is the only zoning available to developers who want to build a renewable energy plant in Mohave County. The Albiasa, Hualapai Valley Solar and Sun West Biofuels plants have all requested heavy manufacturing zoning for their projects.

Sun West Biofuels has recently changed its request to a zoning use permit, similar to the one requested by the owners of the 1.5 mega-watt solar plant.

A zoning use permit would allow the solar plant to build without the heavy manufacturing zoning and would give the county Planning and Zoning Staff more time to work on a proposed Renewable Energy Zoning classification.

Creation of the Renewable Energy Zoning classification is also supposed to be discussed at the commission meeting. A preliminary draft of the zoning shows three possible classifications for renewable energy projects: central generation, which would be used for projects that are generating more than 60 kilo volts of electricity for sale; distributed generation, which would be used for projects generating less than 60 kilo volts for sale; and isolated generation that would be used on site and would not be placed on the electrical grid for sale.

The proposed zoning also has an exception for renewable energy used primarily to serve a single property, such as solar panels on the roof of a house or a wind turbine. Those types of renewable energy generators may be constructed in any zone with the appropriate building permit.

It also states that any developer considering a project more than 1 mega watt in size must hold an informal meeting within the county and notify property owners within 1 mile of the proposed plant by mail, e-mail and publishing the project in a newspaper of the project. The meeting must be held four weeks before the project goes before the commission for consideration.

The developer must also identify which transmission lines it plans to tap into to transport power from the facility and provide letters from the utility company that owns the lines that there is enough capacity for the power.

They must also provide the county with details of the maximum amount of power the plant will produce along with the total square footage of all buildings, the maximum number of panels or turbines that will be built, the expected noise level and the impact of power lines and roads.

A list of residents within 300 feet of the project and any power lines must be provided, along with a list of the necessary federal, state and utility permits the developer must get for the project.

Developers building renewable energy projects generating over 60 kilo volts must meet all the standards above and provide a letter from the Arizona Corporation Commission's Line Siting Committee and a letter from any federal agency with authority over the project.

According to the proposed zoning, a developer can request a renewable energy overlay zoning in an area already zoned general, agricultural residential, airport development or general manufacturing. This allows the current zoning to remain in place.

The commission will discuss the zoning at its Wednesday meeting.

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