Get the Facts
Learn more about solar energy here! Below are answers to some of the most-asked questions about solar energy and the Pecan Prairie Solar Project.
How do solar panels work?
Solar photovoltaic (“PV”) panels typically consist of silicon, tempered glass, aluminum, copper, and semiconductor materials. Silicon, an element most commonly found in sand, has conductive properties that allow it to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity. When light interacts with a silicon cell, it causes electrons to be set into motion, which initiates a flow of electric current in a process known as the “photovoltaic effect”.1
What will this project look like?
A solar farm is a large group of solar panels that operate together as one power generation facility, delivering electricity to the existing electric grid. Solar farms are typically arranged in parallel rows with approximately 8 feet wide access buffers between each row.
A panel array, which includes both PV panel and rack mounting, typically stands around 12 feet tall. The mounting racks are supported by steel pile foundations generally set up to 8 feet into the ground without the use of concrete. Panel designs currently being evaluated by ConnectGen include single-axis tracking mounting, which rotate slowly from east to west throughout the day, keeping the sun at a 90-degree angle from the panels to ensure maximum energy is absorbed. ConnectGen monitors technology improvements, and will incorporate improved design as appropriate which may affect solar array dimensions. Each section of solar panels is typically fenced off to ensure security and safe operation.
What other equipment is usually present at a solar farm?
Other project infrastructure present at a solar farm includes common electrical equipment such as inverters and transformers, and the electrical equipment necessary to deliver energy to the existing electrical grid such as underground and overhead transmission lines. ConnectGen’s projects may also include a battery storage facility.
What effect will the project have on local employment?
Pecan Prairie has leased all land needed for solar arrays from a single rancher who currently uses the land for pasture and recreational hunting. The Pecan Prairie Project will create new, well-paying jobs in Leon County for the long term maintenance and operation of the facilities.
What sort of tax incentives do solar projects get and why are they given?
The U.S. has a long history of supporting energy infrastructure through the tax code. Most energy infrastructure receives some form of federal tax incentive, including oil and gas. The incentive for solar energy is called the Investment Tax Credit (ITC). This tax credit attracts private investment to solar projects, which drives significant new economic activity, including solar manufacturing and construction jobs. It also helps reduce the overall cost of energy from solar projects, which is good for ratepayers.
Do solar projects pay taxes over the long-term?
Yes, this solar project will pay millions of dollars in taxes starting on day one of operation and continuing throughout the life of the project.
Who will be responsible for maintaining the solar farm once it is constructed?
ConnectGen will be fully responsible for maintaining the solar farm and associated equipment, as well as the property within the Pecan Prairie Solar Project’s boundaries. Landscape maintenance at the solar farm will be performed by companies contracted directly by ConnectGen.
Are solar panels safe?
Yes. Because the PV panel materials are enclosed and do not mix with water or vaporize into the air, there is little-to-no risk of chemicals, including greenhouse gases, being released into the environment during normal use. Crystalline silicon PV panels, an extremely common panel variant used around the world, “do not pose a material risk of toxicity to public health and safety.”2 Additionally, any Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) produced by solar panel systems are in the same extremely low frequency range as those induced by household appliances.3
All solar facilities are designed to strict electrical safety standards to ensure safe operation. Product safety standards, installation requirements, and building codes for solar facilities are addressed by the National Fire Protection Agency’s National Electrical Code, the International Code Council’s International Fire Code, the International Association of Firefighters, and several other safety and product standards groups.4
ConnectGen will be fully responsible for the security of the facility and for maintaining consistent safety standards within the project area.
Do large-scale solar projects make noise?
Who will be responsible for removing the Pecan Prairie Solar Project at the end of its useful life?
ConnectGen is responsible for the decommissioning and removal of all project infrastructure at the end of the project’s life. As added protection for project landowners and host municipalities, ConnectGen will put financial security in place early in the life of the Pecan Prairie Solar Project to ensure that the host community and landowner will bear no responsibility for decommissioning or restoration.
1 Energy Sage: “How do Solar Panels Work?: https://news.energysage.com/solar-panels-work/
2 “Health and Safety Impacts of Photovoltaics.” N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University: https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/static/publication/js/pdf_js/web/viewer.html?slug=health-and-safety-impacts-of-solar-photovoltaics
3 NYSERDA New York Solar Guidebook: https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/-/media/NYSun/files/Model-Solar-Energy-Law-Guidance-Document.pdf
4 SEIA: Fire Safety & Solar: https://www.seia.org/initiatives/fire-safety-solar