Editor, The Era-Leader:
In regard to the recent Era-Leader article on the ordinances for regulating Solar Energy Plants (SEP), I offer a brief summary of the ordinance offered by the citizen's group. I do understand that the Infrastructure Committee has said they will “try” to include some of the suggestions, but most of our residents need to know what should be in any regulating ordinance for a “new” industry.
The citizen's group's ordinance suggestions are largely protective of the parish and its residents. We have specific definitions of SEPs and their size. Our setbacks are larger keeping SEPs further away from property lines, roadways, schools and places of worship. We have a tighter noise restriction and better requirements for an opaque uninterrupted barrier and vegetative screen to shield the SEP from public view.
We suggest larger liability insurance amounts covering injury, death and property damage. We want said insurance to be purchased locally from a properly licensed agent within our parish and such insurance should protect the Parish, its employees and any parish authorized agents. We require that any property damage and road damage caused during construction be repaired or replaced promptly.
Our suggestions include a process where a real property owner within one mile of any SEP have a means to recover lost property value should such occur.
We suggest an escrow account, instead of a bond, with cash deposited yearly to be available for any closing costs and cleanup of hazardous waste from the site to protect the property owner and the parish from any future costs should the SEP go out of business.
The main reason our suggested ordinance proposal is longer is that it covers more regulating functions and holds the SEP accountable for more of its activities within our parish. It is more protective of the parish and its residents.
We, in the Sunlight community, had this thing plopped down in our area without any previous notice or even a chance to voice any concerns. We are told that the LSU Experiment station is “state” land and they could do whatever they wanted with it. The green rolling pastures have been replaced with a technological eyesore. The construction of it has directly impacted our residents that live next to it. Then we discover that, until recently, there were NO....NONE of any type of regulations regarding SEPs. And, now we are struggling to enact some sort of regulatory guidelines after the fact.
Solar energy and the electricity produced from it may be “clean” power, but the acquisition and production of it is certainly not.
Ben M Sarro