By B.N. Frank
Opposition to solar farms is increasing in the U.S. due to various issues associated with them (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Earlier this week residents of a rural Kansas county voiced their opinions loud and clear at a commission’s “meet and greet” meeting with a prospective developer.
Concerned Jackson Co. residents crowd commission meeting for possible energy project
HOLTON, Kan. (WIBW) – The country’s largest wind and solar operator is looking to Jackson County for a possible project, but residents at the county’s commission meeting this afternoon said they are not interested.
“Why on Earth would you choose here in Kansas, USA. About a third of the days are sunny.”
“How do you know technology isn’t going to make this thing obsolete in 10?”
“I’m supposed to have property rights in Kansas, and a Florida company is going to take that away from me?”
A crowd of concerned residents attended the Jackson County Commission’s meet and greet Tuesday afternoon with energy operator NextEra Energy. NextEra hopes to gauge interest are in the possible construction of a new solar farm in the area. They’re looking for about 2,000 acres of land between 110th and 158th west of E Road.
Those in attendance had plenty of questions about possible noise and hazards, property rights, and where the energy would go. NextEra assured the crowd the energy would remain in the Southwest Power Pool, which extends from northern Texas to North Dakota.
“We put it on the grid, and when we get to the point of having a project proposal, we’ll have a customer identified and power purchase agreement. It could be outside of Kansas.”
The company also promised that any project wouldn’t involve hazardous materials, customers would be contracted to continue buying energy for the life of the project, and NextEra would perform any studies requested by the county. Regardless, the county’s residents say they didn’t sign up for this kind of project.
“You moved into an area with an understanding of the zoning, and it’s kind of the whole purpose of zoning,” one resident said. “I bought that hundred acres because I understand the guy next to me is going to be farming, he’s not going to be setting up an Amazon distribution center. Because if I had known that I wouldn’t have bought that hundred acres.”
“We moved out into agricultural for a reason,” said another. “We didn’t want this garbage. I did not move into a city next to an industrial zone.”
Commissioners and NextEra’s reps emphasized the process is nowhere close to any kind of approval or agreement. Some residents say they’ll make sure it stays that way.
“If it goes through, there’s enough people in there that were mad enough, that we will get a class-action suit against any leaser that has solar panels put on their property,” Tom Hoffman said. “Because they don’t want to live on a solar wasteland.”
Any project would take upwards of five years to get off the ground. The resulting solar farm would be expected to run at least 30 years.
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