In the same week a fire triggered Duke Energy to take some of its rooftop solar panels offline, a Chapel Hill company applied to build a $22 million solar energy farm in Kings Mountain.

It would be the state’s second-largest solar installation, according to the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association.

Dixon Dairy Road, LLC, which shares a Chapel Hill address with Strata Solar, filed the application with the N.C. Utilities Commission on Tuesday.

It says if the application is approved the company would build around 21,700 solar-power modules on a Dixon Dairy Road site north of South Battleground Avenue. Strata Solar expects the farm to generate 4.5 megawatts of electricity. That’s enough to power around 500 average-size homes for a year.

Plans call for the company to sell its power to Duke Energy.

North Carolina law requires power providers to begin meeting 12.5 percent of its retail customer demand with renewable-source electricity or other energy efficiency measures by 2021.

Duke Energy is on schedule to meet that target, said spokeswoman Betsy Conway. Part of the effort includes a program to partner with residential and commercial customers in creating solar power, typically with rooftop panels.

National Gypsum in Mount Holly has been the site of the largest such partnership in Gaston County. Saturday, however, part of the drywall plant’s roof caught on fire, damaging 10 to 15 of the panels.

The fire started in the electrical system for the panels but could have been caused either by faulty wiring or a lightning strike, said Gaston County Fire Marshal Eric Hendrix.

source: gastongazette