As the owner of the lot where a community solar project is planned, I appreciate the concerns the Colora community has about the project. I would like to clarify some points about the proposal and point out its positive implications for the community.
This project would be quite limited in scale. Of the 32 acres on the parcel in question, only 13 would be covered by panels. The remaining 19 acres of woodland and farmland would remain undisturbed. All rainwater from the panels would be shed onto grassed, permeable ground. It would likely result in less runoff than a newly planted corn field with no cover.
Compared to a housing project, which is also allowed by the present zoning, there are also advantages. A housing development would have a much greater impact on the environment: a large number of roofs, driveways and roads would all be impervious. The project that I hope to build would produce no extra traffic, no noisy neighbors, and would place no additional burden on the fire and police services. Studies have shown that solar projects present a minimal risk of fire. Less than 1 in 10,000 solar installations have had fires, so the risk there is much less than you would have with a traditional housing community.
Solar energy provides a cleaner, more sustainable future than other energy sources. In a small way, it will help improve the local and regional air quality by reducing reliance on carbon fuel. In addition to these benefits, there are also strong practical reasons to support this solar project. The neighboring homes can participate as energy subscribers to the energy produced, thereby getting the benefit of lower rates on their power bills.
I have heard that there are some concerns about the project’s effect on the deer population. There will likely be the same number of deer as before because they don’t bed in the areas towards the center of the field. In addition, compared to a concentrated animal barn, there would be no offensive odors, flies, dust, noise and truck traffic.
We have on our farm a working 350 KW solar system. It is visible from our house, the highway and the neighbors. We have had no complaints from anyone regarding our solar system. It covers all our electricity needs on our farm. Property values have not been an issue, as the closest house recently sold for $350,000. Many prospective home buyers would be happy to have solar bordering their property rather than additional houses, especially given the benefit of lower electrical rates.
I hope that this explanation can help you see the project in a new light, as something that will be an asset to the community.