(Correction: In the Dec. 31 article, “Solar power farm coming to Austin County,” CenterPoint Energy was improperly cited as a partner with Harvest Moon to construct a solar power farm. The power will run on the CenterPoint line but MP2 Energy is the retailer of the electricity produced.)
Recently, many have noticed thousands of solar panels erected on the right side of FM 3013 just passed Gebhardt Road. New farming technology of the sustainable variety will soon be available to residents.
“It’s a community solar farm … roughly about 300 to 400 homes,” Joey Romano, president of Harvest Moon, said.
Harvest Moon Renewable Energy Company, LLC, is a family-run company out of Houston specializing in sustainable and renewable energy.
Jack Culberson, a project engineer and Ameresco Solar representative, said workers set their boots on the ground in October to construct the site. He said it is a 1.6-megawatt site.
Culberson said projects of this magnitude generally require about 30 people working on everything from wiring, mounting the panels on racks, and voltage checks.
CenterPoint Energy, a utility company that serves areas in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas, partnered with Harvest Moon to construct the farm.
In the summer, Romano said the companies began a search for land in the area for the farm. They spoke with the Sealy Economic Development Corporation and received tips on how to work with Austin County and negotiate a land deal. The property lies on the outskirts of city limits but within county boundaries.
Romano said it is ideal for customers who are interested in local renewable energy. It offers competitive costs without having to lock into 20- to 30-year contracts through panel purchases for homes. Customers can receive cheaper bills in this manner.
The farm maximizes energy consumption by mixing traditional electricity from power grids and renewable energy such as using solar arrays.
The product will be offered to anyone in CenterPoint’s operating area from Sealy to Houston, Romano said.
“In the next day, we’re basically going to have it online,” Romano said.
Customers can begin to take advantage of the service at the beginning of the year.
Romano said his company found it funny that the site is located on FM 3013 because transporting supplies and resources through a farm-to-market road is similar in how they are approaching the energy business.
This is the first project of this scale Harvest Moon has constructed. It last built a sustainable apartment complex in the Montrose District, west of downtown Houston, Romano said.
This project is a building block for Romano. Eventually, he would like to expand on their current 300 to 400 home limitations by either enlarging the site or purchasing more land.
“The area is perfect for this type of development … And we want to be apart of the community,” Romano said.
There is a huge benefit to residents having solar power in their backyard, Romano said.
All of this development is just a piece of the pie. Romano also has it in mind to feature educational tours for schools and community members who have an interest in sustainable energy development.