Northampton welcomes ‘green’ business

Published 9:16 am Saturday, June 26, 2010

JACKSON — New business in the form of solar energy is being proposed in Northampton County.

On Monday, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners approved a general agreement with 510nano for the sale and purchase of 25-acre portion of the Northampton Commerce Park on Lebanon Church Road west of Interstate 95 between Garysburg and Gaston.

The board additionally authorized County Attorney Charles Vaughan to expedite and conclude the development of the option to purchase documents and authorize Commission Chair Fannie Greene to execute such documents upon completion.

Northampton County Economic Development Director Gary Brown brought the decision paper before the commissioners.

“For several months, the Northampton County Economic Development Commission has been in conversation with 510nano LLC regarding the company’s interests in developing one or more solar electric energy generation facilities in Northampton County,” he said.

According to its website, 510nano is a Research Triangle-based company that “provides solutions to distributors of solar technology, builders who desire the use of solar technology and energy utilities.”

Brown said the company initially proposes to invest a minimum of $6 million in development of a 1.4 megawatt solar electric energy generation facility in the first phase of the project.

“The company may develop additional generation facilities or project phases, either on the initial project site or elsewhere in Northampton County and/or the region,” Brown said. “Each of those subsequent projects would be similarly sized with similar investment amounts per farm.”

In relation to the first project phase, 510nano anticipates the creation of one full-time position and one part-time position.

The agreement prices 20 acres of the project site at $10,000 per acre and five acres at $2,000 per acre for a total purchase price of $210,000.

510nano would contribute $60,000 of the Dominion Power costs to extend 3-phase electrical service to the site and $5,580 to the county as reimbursement for removing the subject project site from the current farm lease.

There is a 180-day term for the option to purchase and because of a decision by the North Carolina General Assembly, solar electric generation facilities receive an 80 percent exemption of the value of improvements from local property taxes, coupled with accelerated depreciation of machinery and equipment. Therefore, with a base of a $6 million investment, the project is estimated to generate $10,400.

510nano Project Director Valjeanne Estes was also in attendance for the decision.

“510nano is very excited about the opportunity to partner with Northampton County and also with Dominion Power to bring our renewable energy power plant here,” she said. “As you know, our Governor Bev Perdue is very excited about this new green economy. As you see North Carolina is a leader in green industry; we hope to be a part of that as well with Northampton County.”