The city of New Bloomfield, Missouri, midway between St. Louis and Kansas City, has voted 5 to 0 to set new rules regulating utility scale solar power projects. The rules appear to specifically target the Guthrie Solar Project being developed by NextEra. These rules define the project, in its current form, as a nuisance to the town.
As of press time, pv magazine USA has not found the rule change documentation on the town’s website; however, on the front page of their site is a letter from the town’s mayor – “Talking points on solar power”. The letter points to anti-solar sentiment, and claims that “the proposal includes constructing parts of the facility on land which is zoned for single-family use.”
Oddly, Mayor Shaw’s letter explicitly states that the city attorney is contacting property owners based on rumors of where a solar system is to be placed. The letter claims that developers have not contacted the city regarding the construction.
That the city is contacting residents based upon rumors could explain why NextEra said they haven’t released a map of properties signed to lease their land to the general public, and that they would only release a map showing where solar would not be installed.
Per the city’s lawyer, the jurisdiction is allowed to regulate private land within one half mile of city limits.
The rule changes include:
- Solar power projects cannot have equipment within one thousand feet of city limits
- Facility must have a buffer with a paneled fence or natural vegetation
- Stormwater design so none of the water flow from the facility enters city property
The rule changes were specifically made after solar developer NextEra submitted plans to develop a 100 MW facility that will utilize 600 acres of land in Callaway County, none of which – per a Twitter communication – will be built within city limits.
Standard concerns of property value and future land development were referenced by townspeople.
City Attorney Nathan Nickolaus also brought up the risk of fire. The ordinance appears to be referencing a pv magazine USA article, stating “there were 155 fires caused by solar panel systems from 2015-20 with 71 at non-residential systems.”
“Representatives with the New Bloomfield Fire Protection District have stated that their department lacks the facilities to fight a fire within a utility scale solar facility comprising of hundreds of acres,” Nickolaus said.
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