homepage logo

County wants solar farm ordinance

By Staff | Oct 25, 2015

The Faribault County Board was looking at the bright side during their meeting held last Tuesday morning.

Michele Stindtman, of Soil and Water and Planning and Zoning, was present at the meeting to discuss the concept of a new ordinance pertaining to solar energy.

“Over the last six months Planning and Zoning has been talking about solar energy,” she says. “So I have been dabbling in it a little bit.”

The county currently has a wind energy ordinance, but with some neighboring counties encountering more and more interest in adding solar farms, Faribault County felt it might be a good idea to be proactive and begin working on an ordinance as well.

“A lot of other counties are taking their wind ordinance and sticking solar in it and calling it a renewable energy ordinance,” Stindtman said.

However, she feels they will have to take some time to think about the different aspects of solar energy and how they will fit into an ordinance.

“Adding solar energy adds value to homes, but it also has potential conflicts,” Stindtman added. “Which is why ordinances are necessary.”

Stindtman explained that a major factor in the ordinances will have to focus on the size of solar panels, as some may be for use off the grid, just for people’s homes, while others may hope to install many solar panels to sell the solar energy.

“We are in a prime area for solar farms,” she added.

She explained that with so much open area without many trees or obstructions, Faribault County might hear more about adding solar farms.

“Lyon County is getting a (solar) project that will sit on 510 acres of privately owned agricultural land,”?she said.

Faribault County’s ordinance would include small, mid-sized and large solar use. The small would likely include a capacity of 10 kW or less, or is an accessory use, mid-sized would be greater than 10 kW but less than 40 kW and a large would be a capacity of 40 kW or more. However, anything more than 50 kW would be regulated by the state.

“But, I am anticipating a lot of roof mounted structures,” she added.

Commissioner Tom Warmka thought that the controversy came from projects such as the one in Lyon County and felt it was a good idea to proceed with coming up with a ordinance to regulate these types of projects.

The commissioners voted in favor of Planning and Zoning beginning the process of drafting and working on this new ordinance.