solar company responds to community concerns at meeting | Local news

Community members with questions about solar power and its impact on Hardin County had the opportunity Thursday evening to pose their questions to representatives of a company intending to build a solar project in the area.

The executives of ibV Energy Partners held an information session with a question-and-answer section to address local concerns about their Rhudes Creek solar project.

Some of the issues discussed were the value of properties, where the energy is going, whether the land could be reused for agricultural purposes, the company’s bond and insurance policy, and whether solar panels are toxic or leaking toxic chemicals.

The company hosted four panelists, including ibV Vice President of Business Development Robin Saiz, University of Louisville Emeritus Professor of Economics Paul Coomes, professional engineer and ibV project developer Jeff Chang and Commercial Evaluator for Kirkland Evaluators Nick Kirkland, to address community concerns.

Saiz said ibV will need funding for the $ 93-97 million project, which needs to be secured.

“The panels are guaranteed on their own,” he said. “If there is any damage to these panels,… we have sufficient insurance that will replace every panel and any infrastructure that exists. So it is we who will clean it.

If the solar panels don’t work, the business can’t make any money, so the repairs would fall on the business.

“It is certainly in our best interests to get the project started as quickly as possible” after sustaining damage, he said.

With a power purchase agreement with LG&E and Kentucky Utilities for 20 years and a guaranteed life of the panels is 35 years, Saiz said the company may revisit the power purchase agreement upon completion. 20 years or find other companies to buy the electricity the project produces, which is 100 megawatts.

The 100 megawatts will be distributed to customers of LG&E and the Kentucky Utility, which Saiz says will most likely be in Hardin County for profitability reasons. Saiz added that Dow Corning has a plant in Elizabethtown and that at least four Hardin County companies supply Toyota’s operations in Georgetown.

When it comes to property values, Nick Kirkland said his company’s studies show solar projects have very little impact on neighboring property values.

The study he shared showed that some properties increased by up to 5% and others decreased by 5%, but the vast majority of properties showed no change in value.

“The impact study is well supported as there is no impact on the property value of adjacent sites,” he said.

Kirkland pointed to a subdivision built right next to a solar farm that was completed in 2017 in Crittenden County, Ky., Where homes built and sold there showed no change in value.

Another point made by Saiz was that the infrastructure, including piles, wiring, panels and other products, at the project site can be removed.

“All of this material can be removed and it will be removed at the end of its lifecycle,” he said.

Saiz also said the project has a withdrawal bond, in which the company will cover the cost of withdrawing the project at the end of its life.

Another concern Saiz said he hears often is if their solar panels contain toxic chemicals. He said that although some panels use thin film and contain toxic materials, this will not be the case with this project.

“We don’t use this type of technology,” he said. “Silicone is the main component of our solar panels.

Saiz said the glass is also tempered, so if it is damaged, the glass will not shatter on the floor.

The panels will also not contaminate groundwater and well water, Saiz said.

“There’s no liquid inside this thing that’s going to leak out and go into your groundwater,” he said.

Saiz said solar panels contain less lead than a shotgun cartridge and lead is included in the solder that holds the components together, which also cannot contaminate groundwater.

Contamination of groundwater was a major concern for Aleta Studder of Stephensburg.

“I have asked some of the environmental questions that concern us,” she said. “We live on a well system, so I wanted to understand the runoff.”

Studder said after the meeting, she appreciated the company’s willingness to listen and address her concerns and those of others.

“I have learned that the concerns of community members are ready to be addressed,” she said. “I think they’re ready to look at these concerns with an open mind, respond to them, and provide information to help support their project. “

Studder also appreciated that the company is considering having bees and butterflies on their property to help with pollination in the area.

“At one point we were dealing with bees,” she said. “I was pretty happy to hear that they would try to install pollinators.”

While some of her concerns have been addressed, Studder said she still has not decided whether solar power is appropriate for Hardin County.

“My feet are definitely on both sides of the fence,” she said. “When I’m a homeowner I have concerns and can see the value of solar power. Making it where it’s available to those residents or the people of Hardin County is nice. “

Gina Clear can be reached at 270-505-1418 or [email protected]