CADDIS Industrial Solar Project

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views  and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.

The proposed solar project would directly border my property. I have attended both planning commission meetings where this project was being discussed. I contacted the Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service personally to discuss the effects that a solar project of this magnitude would have on the federally protected, critically endangered freshwater mussel named the Carolina Heelsplitter which lives in Turkey Creek. This is a direct quote from one of these discussions.

“It’s a little concerning that our office has not received, at least to the best of my knowledge, a consultation request from the applicants, as the species is so close and activities could impact the streams and wetlands on site. In general we recommend having forested buffers of at least 200 feet on both sides of streams (perennial, intermittent and ephemeral) so that the sediment filtering capacity of the forest stays intact and the streams are not exposed to increased temps and lower dissolved oxygen because of the shade being removed. I will reach out to the solar company contact on the letter you sent to get some ideas of what their avoidance measures are for the species. Thanks again for letting us know about this.”

The original solar project map and what is still the only map of record shows 30 foot buffers on all water features.

At the planning commission work session on November 12, 2020 the Senior Project Developer Ben Manuel said that they planned to move off of Turkey Creek a bit, but gave no reason for the move. He also stated that the solar company had not heard from the Fish and Wildlife Service. I presented the Planning Commission with documentation from Fish and Wildlife of contact with the solar company. Ben said he did not know of the contact. He is Senior Project Developer. That contact with Fish and Wildlife was the reason for the move away from Turkey Creek. Another recommendation from the Fish and Wildlife Service states that solar facilities be sited in areas that are previously disturbed (fallow fields, closed industrial sites, etc.) or sites that do not impact mature forests, streams, or wetlands. 

This is not a park or farm. Parks and farms evoke thoughts of good things. This is an industrial complex surrounded by chain-link fence and barbed wire that would be better suited for an industrial setting. We can debate the merits of solar power, but that is not what this is about. This is about placing an industrial complex in the middle of a neighborhood. Our neighborhood is spread out in a rural setting, but it is a neighborhood. One of the committee members even told the project developer that he did not feel this was a good fit, that perhaps the solar project should be relocated to another area, possibly the Industrial Park on Highway 25.

We do not want this solar project in our community and our feelings were made clear by the number of neighbors and concerned citizens present that shared their views at the Planning Commission meeting.

Kenneth (David) Hair