With all of our fabulous summer sun this year, the County Council is considering a bill which will increase solar arrays in commercial and industrial districts and rooftop arrrays in agricultural areas. Those are all good things. The Growth Action Network supports the main bill and testified so at the Council. https://youtu.be/NKl_VoOnMM4?t=2085
A GAN proposed amendment passed that better defines "prime farmland," and instructs builders to avoid it in constructing ground based solar.
But the bill as amended falls short of unleashing the significant amount of solar capacity that the County and the world needs to meet our green energy needs and to combat climate change.
First, the bill prevents any new ground based solar installations in agricultural areas, where the largest majority of farms are small, minimally agriculturally productive and prime candidates for conversion to solar.
Second, the bill has no protections for the soils under ground-based solar arrays anywhere in the County. We know that standard construction methods use heavy machinery that compacts the soil, preventing absorption, and greatly increasing stormwater runoff, already high from the impervious panels.
GAN believes that more solar in more places is better for us all and that with the 25% limit on the size of ground based solar that is already in the bill, farmers should decide how best to use their land. GAN also believes that soil compaction standards and requirments for deep rooted native plant species under and around the array would add only marginal costs to the construction and yet provide enormous benefits for the environment, both adding solar capacity and decreasing runoff at the same time.
GAN calls for quick action among stakeholders to set standards for ground based solar in RA that actually allow ground based solar in RA, and to develop soil compaction standards that would apply to ground based solar throughout, not just in RA, but everywhere.