At their regular meeting on July 1, The Meade County Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend the approval of a proposal to construct and operate a 40-megawatt solar energy system in Meade County.
The system would be located on 370 acres of land spread across two sites in southern Meade County. One site consists of 116 acres between Scott Hill Road and Ballman Road in Stith Valley. The other consists of 246 acres on the east side of Big Spring Road. The project involves portions of 6 parcels that are leased to the applicant, Meade County Solar, LLC.
In May 2020, Community Energy and Big Rivers Electric Corporation announced an agreement for the supply of 100 megawatts of new solar power to Big Rivers’ energy portfolio. Forty megawatts will be generated and delivered to Big Rivers’ transmission system by the proposed solar farm under development by Community Energy and called Meade County Solar.
The proposed solar field will operate for 30 years, and output will be sold to Big Rivers Electric Corporation. Construction would begin in 2022, and the system would be operational in 2023, requiring 2 to 3 full-time employees for daily monitoring and maintenance once operation begins.
Several members of the public were present at the meeting to voice their concerns and questions about the project. The majority of those that spoke seemed to be in favor of the solar project. However, concerns about the logistics of the decommissioning process as well as the effect the project would have on the farmland were raised.
Chris Killenberg of Community Energy answered several questions from the public and touted the increase in tax revenue the county would receive as a result of the project. He said that, because the solar equipment is expensive, tangible property taxes would bring in approximately $200,000 per year from the system.
Donnie McGar, Karie Lykins and Tom Lanham voted to approve the recommendation; Jacob Mattingly, Brad Bickett and Tim LaTondress voted against it. Chairman Guy Garcia voted to approve the recommendation, breaking the tie and ultimately resulting in a 4 to 3 vote in favor of the recommendation. The Fiscal Court will vote on the issue at their regular monthly meeting on July 13.