Land use, legislation, and more discussed in Solar Summit
By Melissa Scott
Hardy County Planner
On Wednesday, August 24, a group of agricultural producers and professionals, lending institutions, the legal community, and representatives from local and state government gathered at Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College in Moorefield to discuss the potential challenges and opportunities that are involved with trying to balance the needs of agriculture and renewable energy; in this case, solar energy.
Participants learned about the different types and sizes of solar projects that are being constructed in West Virginia and surrounding states, and who benefits most from each. The information focused on how the extensive land use requirements of utility scale solar projects can change the landscape and conflict with current uses such as agriculture, and how with the right planning, these two uses can co-exist and potentially benefit one another.
There was also information presented about the issues farmers need to be aware of when considering land leases for utility scale solar projects. State lawmakers also discussed recent past and upcoming state legislation regarding solar energy; in particular, new laws regarding the process that will guarantee the eventual removal of this large infrastructure and reclamation of the land that will allow it to be returned to viable agricultural production.