Starting A Small Power Plant Using Renewable Energy: Four Issues

If you and your team are starting to investigate the possibility of a small power plant using renewable energy, there are issues other than actual construction that need attention. Others on your team may have more experience with small power plants than you do; if so, here are issues likely to take some of your time before construction begins.

1. Zoning

You may already be well aware that a power plant can't be constructed in the middle of a city; your search for a proper site has probably led you to the outskirts of town or a rural location. However, even if you've think you've gotten the perfect spot, you need to ensure that the plant will comply with zoning regulations. Zoning officers may have very specific questions about what your plant will use and create, so be ready with plans, output estimates and other documentation to show that it will be able to exist within guidelines.

If your land use isn't initially approved by the zoning board, you can ask for what is called a variance. Variance requests can take some time, so if you do need one, take action immediately.

2. Permits

Permits of all kinds are generally required for any new structure or property, but when working on endeavors such as power plants, you'll likely need multiple permits for structures, waste removal, chemical storage or other plant-related activities. To receive some of these permits, you might need to contract a civil or environmental engineer who can investigate the effect your plant will have on the local environment. Soil and other tests could be required too.

3.Tax Implications

As an owner and investor with a financial interest in the plant, you need to investigate any tax implications or incentives you'll be dealing with throughout the life of the plant. For example, you need to discover whether tax deductions for renewable energy installations will apply to you. If so, you have to know how long you'll benefit. An accountant specializing in power plants or renewable energy sources is the best person to walk you through these issues.

4. Community Meetings

Some people in the surrounding community might have concerns or specific questions for you and the team about the power plant. Having a number of meetings in the weeks leading up to construction can ease any fears.

A small power plant requires a lot of work before construction can start. Your team should give itself enough time to deal with each issue so hasty mistakes aren't made and the plant can succeed.