The Elkhart County Board of Commissioners have decided to put off a decision about a planned solar farm in Elkhart County until September or October. During the Aug. 16 meeting, the board voted unanimously to table the proposal for now while they weigh arguments in favor of and against the project.
The proposed location for the renewable energy plant is on approximately 850 acres of farmland just south of Millersburg. Savion LLC, the Kansas City based developer, anticipates the facility will generate up to 150 megawatts of power — enough clean electricity to power 16,000 homes per year, and development director Sarah Mills said the energy would be used in Elkhart County first.
Savion has agreements with the two property owners — the deal calls for a 30-year lease, and if Savion decides not to renew, the land will return to the owners and the equipment would be removed.
It expects to invest $120 million in the project and selected the site due to its proximity to transmission lines owned by American Electric Power.
Opponents of the plan noted that it is not included in the county’s comprehensive plan. They also point to studies that suggest property values in the immediate vicinity of a solar farm may decrease by 1.7 percent.
Project supporters pointed out that the comprehensive plans are merely a set of recommendations, not laws, and that independent studies and data from across the country show either no effect or negligible effect of solar farms on surrounding property values.
The project developers said that their plan includes attractive landscaping that will obscure the operation from the view of surrounding homeowners. The company also pointed out that the county’s comprehensive plan does not have any details on renewable energy.
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