Clark County Fiscal Court rules against industrial solar
WINCHESTER, Ky. (WTVQ) – Industrial solar isn’t coming to Clark County yet.
Thursday, after more than sixteen months of debate, the Clark County Fiscal Court denied two proposed industrial solar ordinances, including in the record that no industrial solar be permitted in Clark County until it’s addressed in a comprehensive plan by the Winchester/Clark County Planning Commission. If the ordinance had passed, it would have paved the way for one of the largest solar farms in the country.
“I think we need to address this issue and when we do, I would hope that we would come up with some mechanism of which the county can license these panels and license these sites so that there’s recurring revenue for the county,” said Clark County District 6 Magistrate Robert Blanton.
Geenex Solar, a developer from Charlotte, North Carolina, argued during the court proceedings that solar power is increasingly needed, and could potentially be a source of significant job creation in Clark County.
“Wouldn’t it be better for these solar facilities to be in Kentucky so that the benefits of them–the tax revenues, the jobs–stay local. Otherwise, as Kentucky’s future energy needs turn more to renewable energy, these projects might be built in other states and have to be imported in,” said Geenex Solar Director of Development Emily Williams.
However, the opposition to solar development, a land-use advocacy organization called the Clark Coalition, argues that the solar facilities would interfere with the rich agricultural industry in Clark County.
“The action taken tonight by the Fiscal Court sets in motion a process that will give Clark County citizens the opportunity to weigh in. This issue will be addressed in our comprehensive plan, and that’s really the best outcome,” said Clark Coalition Executive Director Will Mayer, “As I’ve stated before, we are not against renewable energy…but the proposals from these particular out-of-state developers to site this in Clark County’s prime agricultural land don’t make sense.”
The Clark Coalition has also taken issue with the possibility of the power produced by Geenex’s proposed Clark County sites to be exported outside of the state.
“I wouldn’t necessarily jump to that it would be exported out of the state,” said Williams, “We don’t know ultimately yet who would buy the power of a project like this, but it very well could be someone in Kentucky–a Kentucky utility or a Kentucky corporation.”
The court says it wants to preserve global control of industrial solar if and when it comes to the county.