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FAQ + Resources

Crystal River Solar 1 & 2

General

Pattern Development, based out of Houston and San Francisco, is a leader in the development of renewable energy and transmission projects. With a long history in wind and solar energy, the team at Pattern Development has developed, financed and placed into operation more than 5,500 MW of renewable energy projects. The company has a strong commitment to promoting environmental stewardship and a dedication to working closely with landowners and communities.

Over the past five years, solar power has become one of the cheapest forms of electricity. Solar is a cost-effective, cost-competitive source of power that utilizes free fuel – the sun. According to SEIA, Florida has installed more than 2,290 MW of solar – enough to power 276,000 homes. These two solar projects will also benefit the community by generating new jobs and taxes for Citrus County.

These particular sites were chosen because of land use – each is located on a planned mining site and already anticipates impacts and disturbance to the land. Solar is a great complementary land use before the area is mined – the solar facilities will be temporary, at least 30-year facilities, that will be removed at the end of the lease term. In addition, the proximity to transmission is valuable, as is the relatively flat land area.

The electricity is expected to be fed into the Florida transmission system. The solar projects will provide competitively priced electricity to utilities and customers.

The projects are receiving no government grants, and no other checks from the taxpayers. Like nearly all infrastructure in the US (including Oil and Gas), the projects’ owner will receive a federal tax credit for a portion of the project value. For solar this is called the Investment Tax Credit.

Solar projects typically operate for at least 30 years. Upon expiration of the leases, the facilities still maintain a high salvage value, which may be larger than the cost of removing them, thus incentivizing owners to remove the solar panels and steel piles.

Pattern has been in business for a long time so we don’t expect a bankruptcy. However, a bankruptcy will not affect the operations of the Crystal River Solar 1 & 2 projects. The commitments of the projects would survive a bankruptcy and the projects will continue generating power.

A typical solar project is designed to withstand hurricanes and storm events that create strong wind, rain and hail. These projects will be designed for Risk Category I, which is built to 123 mph 3-second gust rated speed. If a storm did damage the solar farms, the projects would respond swiftly to ensure the public is not at risk.

The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) has conducted several reputable studies which demonstrated that the noise levels generated by inverters and tracking motors are not audible above ambient noise levels at the fence line of the facility. Solar panels themselves are 100% silent.

Of all the forms of energy generation projects, solar projects have some of the lowest impacts to property. Because of this low impact, unlike studies on coal and gas plants, or wind farms, fewer studies have been done on solar farm impacts to land values. However, the studies that have been performed on wind projects have concluded that impacts of wind projects on neighboring property values is low to negligible.

 

We do not think that property values will be significantly negatively impacted by these projects. We are working to minimize the visual impact of the projects for property owners near the site.

Project & Construction Specifics

Each of the projects is expected to be about 74.9 MW and will utilize roughly 500 acres of private mining land in Citrus County. Each project will generate clean and renewable electricity equal to the needs of approximately 15,000 homes each year.

We expect to use approximately 250,000 panels per project. We are finalizing the design of the projects so the range reflects the final number of panels may shift based on different panel outputs.

These projects will create many benefits for Citrus County, including:

» More than 95 jobs for each project over 10-12 months of construction

» Hiring of local contractors and use of local services such as hotels, restaurants, and gas stations

» Clean and renewable energy with zero emissions, generated by one of the cheapest forms of electricity: solar

We will develop community sponsorship programs. If you have suggestions on other ways to engage with community members and support local initiatives, please let us know!

Of course! Pattern Development and our contractors take our commitments to the local communities in which we build our projects very seriously and we will actively encourage our team to engage with local vendors and job seekers. The primary avenues for engaging with the Pattern Development team about vendor submission and full-time employment will be through the Engineering and Construction company that we select to build the projects as well as the local vendor fairs that will be hosted when the construction schedule is finalized.

During construction, each solar project is expected to create 95 jobs or more, as well as one full-time employee during operation, with the potential for additional seasonal employment. A significant number of other jobs will be created, both during and after construction, through indirect economic activities such as lodging, food and local vendor services etc.

The General Contractor will mobilize on site to commence civil work in preparing the site – clearing brush and trees, grading, and surveying and staking. Several weeks into the civil phase, they will commence driving piles for the solar tracking system. About a month into the pile driving phase, they will commence installing the tracking system. Once a sufficient amount of tracking is installed, they will commence solar panel deliveries and mounting. During this phase, the contractor will also be trenching the electrical systems throughout the PV array, leading back to the project substation. Once all of those phases are complete and the modules are electrically connected, about two months of testing will take place where proper operation is verified and the system is brought online electrically in phases and quality control checks performed. Once all tests are complete and signed off by required parties, the system will be operational and begin supplying clean, renewable energy to the local grid.

No. The project is 100% on privately owned land.

Environmental & Aesthetic

Solar panels are typically mounted about 4 feet off the ground and have a maximum height of approximately 7 feet. Panels will be set back from property boundaries and utilize non-reflecting glass. Although the projects may be visible from adjacent and nearby roads, the overall visual impact will be minimal.

Field studies by biologists have indicated the project sites do not include critical habitat for threatened or endangered species.

 

The solar projects are located within an existing mining facility and the solar project areas have been subject to periodic commercial tree harvesting and will ultimately be mined for mineral resources. Thus, it is ideally sited from an environmental perspective for coastal Florida solar development. Furthermore, the solar projects are being designed and will be constructed to minimize impacts to existing natural resources such as avoiding impacts to streams and wetlands.

No. Solar projects do not produce any harmful byproducts or runoff. Properly maintained solar modules and inverters do not discharge chemicals or toxic materials into the soil, air, or water. Properly maintaining the onsite equipment is standard and an important aspect of the long-term management of a solar facility. Any defective equipment would be quickly replaced and taken off site.

The solar projects pose a very low risk to birds. Recent media attention has focused on heat-related bird deaths at some generating facilities, which are related to older solar technologies such as concentrating solar, rather than PV panels which will be used here.

Citrus County receives plenty of rainfall, which can act as a wonderful solar panel cleaner. The projects may need to have panels washed, but that is not anticipated to occur often. Water usage during construction of the projects will be minimal, mostly for dust control.

The EPC contractor utilizes a special technology where steel piles are driven into the ground without any concrete foundation and with minimal force or impact—similar to piles used for building a steel fence. Upon expiration of the lease term, the piles are pulled out and the land is restored to its original condition.

The fences are traditional chain-link design, minimum 6 foot, and are not meant to allow fauna larger than a squirrel to pass.

Technology, Materials, & Safety

At a basic level, solar panels include glass, metal, solar cells, glue and an electrical junction box. If you are interested in the detailed composition, we can provide more details from the module manufacturers.

Solar panels are durable and designed to last for 25 to 35 years. However, from time to time, panels may crack or stop working. Because the projects depend on the electricity each panel produces, broken panels will be replaced in short order.

Concrete will be used at the projects’ substation as an equipment pad for the main transformer and as the foundation for the substation control building.

A stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) will be developed by the general contractor and verified by Pattern. The SWPPP will be reviewed by Citrus County, Florida DEP, and other agencies.

Operations and maintenance crews will use industry-acceptable and EPA-approved chemicals, along with periodic mowing, to keep the level of vegetation under control. Vegetation under the solar panels provides good root systems to prevent erosion issues and is encouraged to grow. However, the height needs to be kept under two feet to prevent shading of the solar panels.

All electrical and electronic devices create electromagnetic fields, but the amount emitted by a solar project to the public is less than a typical household fixture. For example, a typical household fixture, such as a fluorescent lightbulb can generate about 50 V/m at a distance of one foot. At a distance of 1 inch from the power cord for an operating personal computer, 40 V/m are detected. A study conducted by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center at three utility scale sites, revealed that electric field levels along the fenced PV array boundary, and at locations set back 50 to 150 feet from the boundary, were not elevated above background levels (< 5 V/m). Electric fields near the inverters were also not elevated above background levels (< 5 V/m).