Oregon’s Department of Land Conservation & Development Commission is set to throw some shade on the future of solar array farms in Oregon, the new regulations are likely to be enacted at their January 24 meeting.
Proponents of the new restrictions argue solar array farms could consume highly valuable farmlands throughout the Willamette Valley, and are alarmed over a number of projects with pending permits. Opponents argue the new restrictions would often effect land that is not productive for farming. Some farmers see leasing portions of their land for solar projects as a hedge against the uncertainties of farming.
Dual use projects of up to 20 acres would still be permitted under the new restrictions, as would development for land currently subject to permit applications. If the DLCD adopts the new regulations, currently approved sites would have two years to build their solar array projects, though projects like these can take some years to attain financing and fulfill other permit requirements.
Renewable Northwest says the Willamette Valley has 1,459,588 acres of high-value farmland, and 954 of those acres have pending applications for solar facilities. Most likely, the DLCD will seek to restrict solar development on lands with a history of irrigation. Renewable energy advocates are concerned this is a solution without a problem, and that the new restrictions could take future energy options off the table.
Visit the DLCD website at: https://www.oregon.gov/lcd/Pages/index.aspx
-By Andy Thompson