Harvesting the sun: Bedford solar farm nearing completion

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BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) -- Electric customers will soon be able to harvest the sun as a new solar farm is nearing completion in Bedford.

Solar panels at Bedford Solar farm (WDBJ7).

The Bedford Solar Project is designed to help lower the cost of electricity for residents.

Last year, Bedford Town Council approved a purchase agreement with O2 emc, a North Carolina-based solar developer.

“You don’t see it, you don’t hear it, you don’t smell it, it just generates clean, safe, affordable electricity," said Joel Olsen, the CEO for O2 emc.

The new solar farm in Bedford will produce renewable energy and lower the cost of electricity for residents. “We’re going to do that by reducing the peak demand that the town has during the mornings in the winter and during the afternoons in the summer," Olsen added.

The Solar Project is a first for any municipality in Virginia.

Once construction is completed, more than 10,000 solar panels will sit on 16 acres in Bedford.

The solar panels will generate about 5.7 million kilowatt hours of electricity every year. “That’s enough to power all the electrical needs of about 500 average homes," Olsen explained.

The solar farm will soak in power at a price of about 6 cents per kilowatt hour. “Anytime you can support a renewable energy that’s cost competitive for the consumers, that’s the right thing," said Virginia Senator Steve Newman.

The project will do more than just power house. Olsen says when it’s all said and done, they will have employed more than 100 area residents to work on the project – creating opportunities for careers in renewable energy. “It gives them new skills that they’ve never had before. It allows them to work in an industry that’s growing," he said.

Construction is scheduled to wrap up around Thanksgiving and the farm will be generating electricity by the end of the year.