Dozens of people testify against solar farm proposed on Ada, Canyon counties –

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The project would cover nearly 2,400 acres just north of Melba.

BOISE, Idaho — The fight against a large solar farm along Ada and Canyon County lines continues. Wednesday, community members brought their concerns to the Ada County commissioners during a public hearing. 

More than 100 people showed up. Commissioners paused testimony after several hours. 

The solar project would cover nearly 2,400 acres just north of Melba. Powers Butte Energy Center, a subsidiary of Missouri-based solar company Savion, proposed it. 

If approved, company officials said the solar panels would power about 45,000 Idaho houses. They maintain the project is quiet, renewable, and would not impact nearby people. 

“It has no significant impacts to wildlife or other natural resources, Savion Development Director Mitchell Taylor said. “It enables clean electricity addressing the Treasure Valley’s energy needs; it provides new revenue to the county throughout the life of the project.” 

People who went to Wednesday’s hearing do not agree. They said it would take away prime farmland and make it harder to get good feed for livestock. 

They are also worried about potential health impacts and property values. 

“It’s not that we’re against solar energy or property rights. But that would decrease the value of every landowner, farm or homeowners in that area greatly,” dairy farmer Michael Siegersma said. 

Small farmer Dustin Ferdinand said the project would disrupt their way of life.

“The reason people come out there and the reason we all live out there is because it is rural, it’s farmland, it’s country,” he said, “and you throw in a [24-hundred-acre solar farm out there, and that’s all gonna be lost.”

Public testimony will continue in Ada County on July 10. County staff recommended commissioners approve the project with some conditions, including making sure the company created detailed fire response and decommissioning plans. 

This hearing was only about the portion of the project in Ada County. Canyon County’s Planning and Zoning Commission will also have to vote. They have not set a date. 

KTVB went to the site last month and interviewed neighbors. 

Ada County also wants feedback on an ordinance about solar farms. The county drafted it because more companies are submitting solar applications. 

A spokesperson says the ordinance would help clarify what projects can go where. She said it would also help the county be more consistent about how they regulate solar farms, including what happens when they get decommissioned.

The public survey is open through the 10.

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