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A solar utility project has its sights set in rural Johnson county, with the potential to provide seven and a half megawatts to the surrounding community if approved by the Board of Supervisors. On Nov. 13, the Johnson County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval for a rezoning request from PCR Investments LLC, from Agriculture (A) to Renewable Energy (RE) for a solar plant located west of Lone Tree, nine months after the company's initial request. PCR Investments LLC, a Houston-based company with its parent company headquartered in Argentina, chose Iowa as a location for its project because it recognized a need for alternative renewable energy sources. “Iowa already has wind energy,” said Mariano Brandi, CEO. “In Iowa, there are lots of wind projects,” echoed Cynthia Schuchner, chief construction and engineering officer at PCR. “We see it as a good opportunity to help stabilize the grid to develop solar projects, which generate during the day, while wind generation tends to generate most at night.” The $10 million project – Lone Tree PV Plant – will be leasing 50 acres west of Lone Tree on the corner of Highway 22 and Sioux Avenue, kitty-corner from an existing substation, which it will connect to. This will allow the plant to tie into the distribution network. “Renewable energy is going to be desperately needed in the very near future,” said Erin Hazen, member of the Johnson County Planning and Zoning Commission. “Because the whole Midwest is facing (the) retirement of nine gigawatts of current production…new sources of power are really, really, desperately needed over the next 5-to-10 years.” The solar plant is estimated to power 1,400 homes. PCR Investments hired certified environmental professionals from Stantec Consultants to perform a glare analysis ahead of the proposed installation, and found that the panels will not be a nuisance for aircraft using the Iowa City airport, will not bother residents dwelling in first and second story structures up to a half mile away, and studied the effects on the average eyeline height for traffic – for both semis and passenger vehicles – traveling on Highway 22 and Sioux Avenue, finding that glare will not be an issue either. The project will be developed in a single phase, with an estimated start date 12 months from Johnson County permit approvals. Construction will take about eight months, with a finish date of 2025. The facility will run for approximately 30 years before being decommissioned. Commissioners determined that the project appeared to comply with the goals and criteria of the County’s Comprehensive Plan, and voted to approve the application subject to certain conditions, including a plan to invest in landscape vegetation to act as a buffer between the installation and the public.