Leeward Renewable Energy announced that construction has commenced on its Oak Trail Solar facility near Moyock, North Carolina. LRE will sell the 100 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy generated at Oak Trail Solar to Verizon Communications under a long-term power purchase agreement.
"Verizon is committed to protecting our planet by supporting the production of renewable energy and the transition to a greener U.S. energy grid," said James Gowen, Verizon’s chief sustainability officer and senior vice president, global supply chain. "The renewable energy produced by the Oak Trail Solar project will help us achieve net zero emissions in our operations by 2035."
Blue Ridge Power serves as the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor and is committed to hiring qualified local workers. Oak Trail Solar is expected to provide approximately 280 jobs at peak construction and generate significant benefits for many local businesses and will provide a substantial property tax base for Currituck County and area schools.
LRE projects are managed across the full project lifecycle with environmental, social, and cultural considerations foremost in mind. Oak Trail Solar will utilize First Solar photovoltaic solar modules, which use less energy, water and semiconductor material in their manufacturing and are designed to have a longer lifespan than other alternatives. As part of its commitment to land stewardship, LRE plans to utilize 30 percent of the project acreage to establish a pollinator habitat, planting native vegetation and wildflowers for screening to provide ecological benefits to the area.
“The Oak Trail Solar project represents meaningful growth with a low impact for Currituck County,” said Josh Bass, president, Currituck Chamber of Commerce. “In addition to helping North Carolina achieve its clean energy goals, this project will have a significant and positive economic impact to our County and schools without stressing the County’s infrastructure. We’re proud and excited to have Oak Trail Solar as part of our community.”
“Oak Trail Solar marks another milestone in the growth of LRE’s renewable energy portfolio and is an example of how we manage our projects in alignment with our core values of protecting and respecting the environment and communities in which we operate,” said Sam Mangrum, SVP of Project Execution at LRE. “LRE is focused on creating enduring value with local communities by building and maintaining strong, long-term relationships. We look forward to bringing the project online next year and supporting Verizon’s efforts to meet its net zero operational goal.”
The project is expected to reach commercial operation by mid-2023.