Grand Mound residents speak on proposed solar project
GRAND MOUND, Iowa (KWQC) - The residents of Grand Mound, Iowa are making their voices heard regarding a proposed solar power project.
Ranger Power is looking to use more than 1,000 acres of land outside the rural community. After the Planning and Zoning Commission voted against the project in February, the Clinton County Board of Supervisors took that recommendation under advisement and scheduled a public hearing.
More than 75 people attended Thursday night, with more than 20 addressing the board. Some were for the project, or cautiously for it, others were directly opposed.
”What they propose is going around and encircling people, and close,” said Faye Kennedy, a Grand Mound resident who would have solar panels on two sides of her property. “The only access they got is the road going up to their property. And that’s a shame. "
She says the panels would be an eyesore and wants nothing to do with them.
Her concerns were echoed by others. The fears included the loss of more than a thousand acres of farmable land, lowered property values, and the safety of the solar panels.
“In one of the latest articles I’ve read it talks about fire from batteries used in solar panels, per the article, will your local fire department put out this fire?” said Nancy Olson, another Grand Mound resident. “How close will you be to the inferno and this toxic gas?”
All of the land for the project is acquired through voluntary agreements between Ranger Power and land owners.
”How can foreign investors purchase and create large livestock operations on land valued upwards of 25 thousand dollars, which is happening in northwest Iowa, but we’re being told we can’t diversify our land on our farms in Clinton county?” asked Bret Dosland, one of the participants in the project.
Supporters of the plan also cited the need for reliable, renewable energy, increased tax revenue in the county, and the minimal amount of farm land used compared to all the farmable land in the county.
Ranger Power project manager Sam O’Keefe says Ranger has been working with residents and tweaking the project to try the minimize the impact, and their technology is time tested.
“These panels, this technology has been around since the 1950s. And those panels are still operating, by the way,” said O’Keefe. “It’s a proven technology photovoltaics. And it’s not toxic. There’s no OSHA requirements for handling these panels.”
Ranger has promised a 250 foot setback of the panels from any habitable buildings in their plans, a distance five times what is currently required by the state of Iowa. They also say at the end of the panels’ life, 30 to 40 years, there is a detailed decommissioning plan that should allow the land to be farmed afterward.
If the project is approved, construction would take about a year and a half, with 200 local contractor jobs and a handful of long-term maintenance workers.
You can see more details of their plan here. The Clinton County Board of Supervisors meets next on April 7th. No decision was made on the project at Wednesday’s meeting.
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