Solar farm proposal tabled again by supervisors

The DeSoto County Board of Supervisors again tabled action on a Conditional Use Permit request from Clearway Energy Group of California to build a solar farm in the western part of the county. 

The company asked for and the permit request was tabled for a second time at Monday’s meeting. It will come back before the board at its first meeting in November, set for 1 p.m. on Nov. 2. 

Clearway asked for the request to continue working to allay concerns from residents in the area who are opposed to the solar farm being built off old U.S. Highway 61 and West Railroad Avenue near Walls. The land is currently zoned agricultural.

Among the latest issues brought up during Monday’s meeting were concerns the energy generated by the solar farm would cause interference with items such as satellite television and mobile phone service. 

Barry Matchett, a Clearway representative speaking by phone during Monday’s meeting, said the company believes there won’t be issues with interference. 

“We feel very, very good that this does not interfere with satellite television, cell phone reception, wi-fi reception,” Matchett said. “We are very confident there is no interference with those critical communication devices, especially with a lot of people now working from home.  We feel very, very good about that.”

Matchett also refuted concerns about added heat in the area generated by the solar panels. Residents are worried panels would add up to three degrees to the air temperature, especially during the heat of summer months.   

“Research that we have done working with the National Energy Lab on this issue is that since heat rises, there is no heat dome,” Matchett said.  “We’ve also learned over time that heat disperses very quickly when it is pushed by wind. It doesn’t move as a dome or as a wave over a nearby structure. It goes up and out very quickly.”

Resident Randy Denton speaks to the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. (Bob Bakken/DeSoto County News)

Randy Denton spoke as a resident against the proposal, telling supervisors that if the panels are erected, the county should include very strong language into the agreement.  

“The Delta farmland is a prized possession,” Denton pointed out. “Should this go in, and we’re strongly opposed to it, the contract between Clearway and DeSoto County needs to protect those of us that live within a mile or two of this place and those that live right in the middle of it. The language needs to be strong and there needs to be punitive action.”

Denton also asked that local vendors and suppliers be used in the construction and maintenance of the solar farm. 

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