Commissioners agree not to sign moratorium
The Jackson County Commissioners have agreed not to sign an 18-month moratorium that would temporarily ban applications or permit requests for commercial solar and wind energy projects in the county.
In lieu of a moratorium, the commissioners, on a 3-0 vote Monday, approved a motion to accept a letter submitted by NextEra Energy last week during a public hearing stating that the company will not apply for a permit for its solar project until May 2024 (18 months) or “until new solar regulations have been passed in Jackson County, whichever is sooner.”
“It’s basically the same thing as a moratorium, it just doesn’t say the word moratorium,” Commissioner Ed Kathrens said.
More than 70 people attended a 40-minute public hearing regarding the proposed moratorium last week. About 20 people spoke during the hearing, including those both for and against the moratorium.
The moratorium stems from a 2,000-acre solar project being proposed by Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources LLC in the Delia area.
A letter submitted to the commissioners by John Felitto, a developer employed by NextEra Energy, during the hearing states that, by waiting until 2024 to apply for a permit, the company “hopes that this provides plenty of time for the commission to be deliberate in its process of drafting detailed, thoughtful regulations and are comfortable with processing our application when the time comes.”
The 18-month timeframe will allow the county to get regulations in place regarding the energy project, Commissioner Keith Kelly said.
“The county reserves the right though, within that, to come back after six months if we have regulations in place to accept permits,” Kelly said.
According to the letter submitted by NextEra Energy, the company has been “deeply rooted” in Kansas for two decades and has invested about $2.9 million in energy projects across the state, including wind facilities in nine counties.
“What attracts us to this county is the ample solar resource, land topography and proximity to transmission and electric demand,” according to NextEra’s letter. “A solar project in Jackson County would provide income to landowners, as well as millions of dollars in additional tax revenue for Jackson County over the life of the project.”
NextEra representatives also reported that they will continue to provide updates on the project to the commission as plans progress.