Solar farm near Sigurd covers 600 acres

Robert Stevens // Messenger Drone Photo
Partially seen from above, solar panels cover 600 acres just west of Sigurd.

SIGURD—A large-scale solar farm in northern Sevier County will soon start harvesting energy from sun rays.

The 600-acre, 80-megawatt grid located west of Sigurd is owned by D. E. Shaw, a hedge fund in New York that invests in solar and wind projects internationally.

The farm is the first of its kind in Sevier county. Iron, Emery, Millard and Beaver counties have farms already, according to Malcolm Nash, Sevier County director of economic development.

“Construction is finished. They’re getting it operational,” Nash said. “If you drive by I-70, you won’t miss it. It’s kind of out there by itself. It’s not inside of a city or town boundary.”

The plan to build the farm was first conceived when Colorado Community Solar, a development company, approached Sevier County with a proposal. The Colorado company put together a planning and zoning package for the project, which they sold to D.E. Shaw, Nash said.

Construction was supposed to begin in early 2020, but was pushed to last August after being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Projects like this can go for a while and take a couple years,” Nash said. “It’s a fairly involved process.”

As of now, it could be online within a few weeks, but there remains “a lot of iterations between then and now” that could impact the timeline.

The owner must still get clearance to access the power grid via Rocky Mountain Power, after which the farm can start delivering electricity.

Part of the equation for whether to approve this involves maintaining a balance when it comes to renewable-energy sources, Nash said. He said the outages during the recent cold snap in Texas are an example of potential drawbacks to modern grids relying too heavily on renewables.

The local economic impact is largely short-term. In the long run, only property taxes the owner will pay on the farm and a utility-scale generator will go back to the county.

“The value of this project is around $90 million,” Nash said. “There’s an economic impact during construction, but once that phase is done, there’s basically no jobs associated with it. The county is going to see a slight impact [from property taxes]. It will generate some revenues to use in the county.”

Considering the balance between renewable energy and other sources in the grid, Nash said he expected this solar farm to remain the only one in the county for the long term.