June 20, 2021

Supervisors say ‘it would be nice to know what’s going on’ with solar

Curt Beane, a concerned Adair County citizen, approached the board of supervisors with a letter in late May asking them where the county stands in solar development and how much the supervisors can ask developers about what was spoken for before May 5 when an ordinance was passed that limits further solar development to 400 acres in the county.

At the board’s Wednesday, June 9 meeting, that discussion took another step. County attorney Melissa Larson met with the supervisors to talk about the fact that more investigation is likely needed before the county approaches developers asking for such information.

In talks at a recent meeting, Beane mentioned the backdating of contracts as a concern of his. While he has no hard evidence that is actually happening with solar development now, he does have reason to believe it happened during wind energy development in recent years. Larson said that any such practices would be violation of the county’s ordinance.

“We’re always the last to know, then all of a sudden it’s happening,” Wedemeyer said. “It’d be nice to know what is going on, how many acres are being put up and what’s going to happen.”

Supervisor Jodie Hoadley asked Larson if it is ever appropriate to backdate a contract. Larson responded by saying that if you’re doing it to explicitly avoid the law it is wrong and would violate the county’s ordinance.

“I can’t really say if it’s ever OK, but I can tell you in that particular circumstance, no, it wouldn’t be. It wouldn’t have been signed before the ordinance was in place,” Larson said.

Supervisor Jerry Walker said that another implication is that citizens are coming to him asking if they can have solar panels. They’re wondering where the county is at in relation to the 400-acre cap. He referred those parties to MidAmerican Energy Project Developer Matt Ott in hopes that he could steer them in the right direction.

“We’re happy to talk to anybody who is interested or has questions,” said Ott, who attended the meeting via phone call. “Whether it’s wanting to do something with us or wanting to do something on their own accord, we’re happy to field those questions.”

According to a report published in the Des Moines Register April 22, MidAmerican is looking to develop 24 megawatts of solar energy in Adair County.

The supervisors have been made aware of two solar farms in the works for Adair County, one near 130th Street and Walnut Avenue southeast of Stuart, and the other being southwest of Bridgewater in the far corner of Washington Township. Actual sizes of each of those solar farms has not been disclosed.

In other county business, the supervisors:

• Pre-approved expenses at the end of this fiscal year for the sheriff to attend continuing education firearm training.

• Reviewed a contract for Adair County to receive American Rescue Plan Act money in the approximate amount of $1.34 million.

• Awarded LeRoy and Sons the Adair County portion of a joint grading project with Cass County on G61 southwest of Bridgewater. Bids came in a approximately 20% below estimates. Cass County’s portion of the project will cost approximately $490,996.93 while Adair County’s portion will be $307,553.88.

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson has served as News Editor of the Adair County Free Press and Fontanelle Observer since Oct. 2017. He and his wife Kilee live in Greenfield. In Greenfield and the greater Adair County area, he values the opportunity to tell peoples' stories, enjoys playing guitar, following all levels of sports, and being a part of his local church.