A large group of concerned citizens attended a meeting Monday night at the Washington Parish Courthouse to comment on a proposed ordinance that would regulate solar projects in the parish.
The meeting of the Parish Council’s Infrastructure Committee resulted in the committee listening to a spokesman for the group of concerned citizens and agreeing to try to include some of their suggestions in the proposed ordinance.
The ordinance would eventually have to be approved by the entire Parish Council and a public hearing would be held before it could become legally effective.
The Parish Council’s Infrastructure Committee consists of Council members Rusty Fornea, Joe Culpepper, and Kim Wagner. Fornea is chairman of the committee. The spokesman for the citizens group was Wilson LaGraize and the attorney for the citizens group was Matthew Sherman of New Orleans.
Also at the meeting was state Sen. Beth Mizell of Washington Parish, who sponsored a resolution in the state legislature that calls for a public hearing tentatively scheduled for June 29 to allow farmers and others concerned about solar projects to express their concerns.
The only existing solar project in the parish is located at the LSU Experimental Station on Highway 16 west of Franklinton. However, a second large-scale solar project is proposed for a large tract not far away on Sunlight Road. That project was planned to go online in mid-2022, but the construction timetable will depend on when a current solar project moratorium in the parish comes to an end.
The Infrastructure Committee on Monday night considered a proposed ordinance drafted by the parish’s legal counsel, and also considered additional suggestions and changes contained in a proposed ordinance drafted by the concerned citizens group. While both proposed ordinances contained definite regulations that must be followed by solar project developers, the proposed ordinance presented by the citizens group was much more comprehensive in its listing of regulations.
The proposed ordinance prepared by the parish legal counsel was slightly over four typewritten pages, but the proposed ordinance offered by the concerned citizens group was slightly over 14 pages.
The committee agreed to consider the proposed ordinance from the citizens group and possibly incorporate some of its language into the final ordinance that will go before the entire Parish Council for a vote.
(Photo above shows part of the large crowd of concerned citizens who attended the meeting. State Sen. Beth Mizell is at front center of photo.)