The fact that Le Sueur and Waseca Counties have enacted temporary moratoriums on solar development, and that Blue Earth County plans to review its zoning ordinance on solar installations (“Counties look to tighten rules on solar farms as complaints grow,” July 17) is an expected outgrowth that comes with any kind of development.
We have seen this with wind farms, industrial centers, housing developments, even ethanol and soybean processing plants. There will always be an interplay — and often conflict — between competing interests over land.
Most of the time these competing interests are resolved without too many bitter feelings.
Those of us who support clean energy are well aware of the conflicts that arise regarding solar developments and wind farms and seek for solutions that benefit all parties. For instance, early conflicts over wind farms resulted in neighboring landowners sharing in some of the income from those developments.
There are solutions for solar developments as well, including setbacks and hedgerows. Another partial solution, one that is being deployed in Germany and elsewhere in the U.S., is placing the solar panels high enough above the land to allow crops to be grown underneath, thus increasing the monetary yield from the property. This means that farmland is not lost. (For most of today’s Minnesota ground-mount solar installations, pollinators and nitrogen-fixing plants are sown in the soils below.)
We know we must wean ourselves off fossil fuels and that clean energy saves consumers money. We also know that locally-produced energy provides local jobs and tax revenue and keeps our hard-earned dollars within the state.
Government officials must not make rash decisions but carefully gather information from all sides to come up with fair solutions that benefit all parties. I have every confidence that our local county officials will do just that.
Chair, Southcentral Minnesota Clean Energy Council
Board Member, Mankato Area Environmentalists