As Demand for Green Energy Grows, Solar Farms Face Local Resistance

Will Mayer, the executive director of the Clark Coalition, the opposition group, said, “Our town is small and we all know one other and our efforts are not against our neighbours.” He went on to say that the project has the potential to overshadow the region’s agricultural sector, which has already seen land disappear due to other forms of development.

Swift Current is supporting one of the projects and plans to build a 1,200-acre solar farm there. With the help of local people, Mr. Birchby says the project will have “little” effect on their perspective.

We want to ensure that any project we’re doing can be a long-term neighbour and part of the community,” he said.

Also in Clark County are Geenex Solar and EDF Renewables, who are working on a different solar power plant project. Both companies declined to provide specifics, but Geenex’s senior vice president of permitting and development, Kara W. Price, said in an email that the two companies “are ready to present our potential project to Clark County officials and the community, and will provide multiple opportunities for discussion and input.”

As a result of public concerns, Winchester, Ky., the largest municipality in Clark County, which has jurisdiction over land use, denied permits for both projects in late summer until a comprehensive plan can be developed.

Some developers are putting screens to avoid disturbing views and giving to community causes to be good neighbours in order to meet the concerns of their neighbours. Pollinator habitats are being created in and around the panels, while grazing areas are being created.

Agrivoltaics, a technique that permits land to be used for both agricultural and solar electricity, is another option for developers. In Europe, agrivoltaics are already being tested by developers like Boston-based BlueWave Solar, which has installed its raised panels in Grafton, Massachusetts. BlueWave is about to begin a pilot programme in Maine to enhance blueberry production, according to co-founder and chairman John DeVillars of BlueWave.