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Monday, January 31, 2011 - 10:00am

Turning Farmland Into Solar Fields

Georgia’s largest solar farm to date is heating homes in north Georgia. It's the second major project to turn farmland into solar fields.

The five acre piece of land in Blairsville was just growing hay before it was converted into a solar array that produces enough energy to power about 150 homes.

Its owner Trey Pippin also runs the second largest solar farm in the state on his pecan orchard in south Georgia. He says he would like to start more big projects here, but it’s not financially feasible. One reason he cites… the cap on Georgia’s tax incentive.

"A problem with the state of Georgia is the tax credit is capped at 2.5 million [dollars], so you run the risk of building the project," says Pippin. "This money is out there, but by the time you’re finished and you’re eligible to try to get that money, it could be gone."

Pippin applied for the state credit, but doesn’t know if he’ll get it. Three million dollars in federal incentives already helped pay for the six million dollar project.

He says his new solar ventures will be in North Carolina because of that state's tax incentives. Also, he says, North Carolina's utilities will buy more solar energy than the ones in Georgia.