Brooks County Board approves permit for new solar field

Published: Aug. 5, 2019 at 11:35 PM EDT
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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News

August 5, 2019

BROOKS COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- A proposal for a new solar energy farm in Brooks County is moving forward as the Brooks County Board of Commissioners approves a Special Exception permit.

On Monday, the board approved the permit for NextEra Energy Resources to allow the company to build a second solar farm outside of Quitman, on the former Miami Plantation.

Dozens of community members packed in to the County Commissioners meeting Monday, many voicing their opposition for the project.

Shaddock Spite and his family have lived in Brooks County for several generations. Disappointed with the board's vote, he said the decision felt rushed, and approved for the wrong reasons.

"I realize that Brooks County needs money, and we need an economic stimulus, but this is not the right way," Spite said. "I would hope that we could find other ways to generate income, so my first reaction is shock and disappointment."

Spite, like many of the other speakers, said he supports solar, as well as other sources of green energy, but sacrificing this property isn't the right way, jeopardizing the identity of the area.

"It's been a farming community, a woodland community, a country community, Brooks County in general," Spite said. "That's been the heart and soul, I would say, and what makes us unique and different."

Ahead of the vote, NextEra agreed on additional conditions to be included in the agreement. Those include a $1 million decommissioning agreement, a road repair agreement and a 75 foot easement, including 40 feet of natural habitat.

Project Manager Stephen Land said the company does not expect any impact on wildlife in the area, and they will continue to work together with the Brooks County community.

"We're excited about extending our relationship with the folks of Brooks County," Land said. "If I can just let them know we'll continue to serve as a good partner, we've been a good neighbor to this point and we'll continue to make those efforts."

Land said the solar panel project does not yet have a timeline, as the company is still working to finalize contracts.

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