Solar Farm Provides Other Opportunities

YADKIN COUNTY -- Yadkinville is using the sun and about 20,000 solar panels to keep the neighbor's lights on.

"It's a 3.5 megawatt plant which means it can power, and we did the addition before we came out here, about 400,000 60 watt bulbs for an hour," said Adam Foodman, O2 emc COO.

Several thousand homes benefit from the farm. It cost $7 million to construct and added $2 million to the county's tax base.

"This is a huge benefit for the county because you get all the money without having to provide the emergency services," said Foodman.

And another added benefit is what you see under the panels.

"We think that solar creates a win-win for agriculture. We get a crop of clean energy and we get a crop of sheep. Sheep is an alternative to mowing the grass or using a heavy application of herbicide to keep the grass dead, basically," said Shawn Hatley, Sun Raised Farms managing director.

Sun Raised Farms uses thousands of sheep across the state at other solar farms. The number of sheep depend on the farm.

"Right now we have less than 25 on this farm, and that's largely dependent on the stage of growth, the season of year, a lot of variables to consider," said Hatley.

The sheep will rotate around the farm to eat the grass evenly. And the panels will also stay for the next three decades.

"We have a specific interconnection with the utility so this site cannot be expanded. It's fixed the way it is, and we'll be here probably for 30 years in this particular state," said Foodman.

After the 30 years the company can choose to tear down the panels or replace them with more up-to-date solar technology.