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Powering up: largest solar farm in Alabama opens in Lauderdale County

March 8, 2017 · Projects

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The GMC Huntsville Survey Department recently completed work on the River Bend Solar Energy Center, the largest solar energy project in Alabama.

Located on 640-acres in Lauderdale County, the River Bend Solar Energy Center features more than 300,000 solar panels on single-axis trackers that follow the sun throughout the day to maximize energy production. According to the Tennessee Valley Authority, the project can generate 75 megawatts –enough energy to power more than 15,000 homes.

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GMC provided pre- and post-construction services for the solar project.  Pre-construction began with a topographic survey and ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey of the site. ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys must be developed prior to most commercial real estate transactions where title insurance on the property is needed. The title insurance companies are asked to insure the land without exception as to the many matters which might be discoverable from a survey, and which are not evident in public records.  ALTA/NSPS Land Title surveys are done in accordance with national standards set forth by the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) and the American Land Title Association (ALTA). These surveys are highly complex and require in-depth title research before on-site fieldwork even begins. The completed survey depicts boundary lines, buildings, improvements, easements (access rights by service companies, such as water, gas, phone, railways and other utilities), zoning, water boundaries, utility locations, evidence of cemeteries, possible encroachments, flood zone classification and other land-ownership features.

Post-construction, the team conducted a final ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey and as-built survey of the site. The ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey was done to verify no new title issues arose and to locate all new improvements that were requested by the financial lender. As-built surveys are performed during or immediately following construction to record variations from the original plans to what is actually built on the site. The team also conducted an ALTA/NSPS Land Survey of the operations and maintenance office site in Florence, Ala.

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Through utilization of renewable energy from the sun, the River Bend Solar project will decrease carbon dioxide emissions that would have been produced if the electricity had been generated using fossil fuels by approximately 105,000 tons per year. In addition to providing clean energy, the project is expected to generate more than $9 million in property taxes over its operational life, with the majority going to benefit the Lauderdale County School District.