Solar rules meeting postponed

The first meeting of the newly created solar project committee has been rescheduled to February.

A meeting to discuss solar rules for Lake County has been postponed until February. The discussion was scheduled to take place during the Planning Commission’s first regular meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 19, but due to staff scheduling conflicts had to be moved.

Local citizens brought forward the idea of establishing rules for future solar projects in Lake County during a Board of Commissioners meeting in fall of 2020. The Board has since worked to create a solar advisory committee, made up of citizens both in favor of and opposed to solar development on ag-zoned land.

Members of the solar committee will be tasked with researching the pros and cons of having commercial solar projects in Lake County, local impacts of such projects and potential challenges associated with them.

Lakeview area resident Amanda O’Bryan was the first to bring her concerns regarding the County’s lack of solar rules before the Commissioners. In a later letter attached to her application to be on the solar committee, she posited, “There are currently rules and regulations in Lake County for everything from well development, forestry, housing on ag land, and everything in between. However, the one area that is extremely outdated and lacking is the policy of commercial development of solar energy in Lake County.”

As Lake County has long been considered a prime spot for solar development thanks to its vast swaths of wide-open land and high number of sunny days per year, many solar projects have been established in the area, several more are in process, and more still are expected down the road.

The solar committee will present its findings to the Commissioners, who may use the information to establish rules for future solar projects in the county.

Jan. 19 was to be the kickoff meeting between that solar committee and the Planning Commission, Planning Dir. Darwin Johnson noted. Instead, it will be held during the Commission’s regular meeting next month — Tuesday, Feb 16 at 6 p.m. The session is open to the public; Johnson said he expects it will be “very informative.”

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