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County sets rules for solar and wind projects

CLARION – The Clarion County Board of Commissioners last week (May 25) formally adopted ordinances placing limits on the development of non-residential solar energy and non-residential wind energy systems.

“The ordinances cover the commercial solar and wind farms. Not residential solar,” said Clarion County Commissioner Wayne Brosius.

“The oil, natural gas and coal industries have a devastating effect on the environment both from extraction and production,” said Clarion County resident Jamie Shropshire. “There may be some effects on the environment in the creation of wind turbines and solar panels but, when they are producing energy, they are relatively clean.

“Wind and solar are the future while natural gas and coal are not. Renewables are where the country is headed and Clarion County needs to join that movement.”

Clarion County Commissioner Ted Tharan explained the county’s position.

“We are doing this for the same reason there are bonds on oil and gas wells,” said Tharan. “The old strip mines were bonded and whenever they walked away there was supposed to be money to clean it up. There were high walls that were left and there was no bond. Now they have to come back and clean them up.”

Shropshire asked why the county was making these ordinances and not the state.

“I don’t know why the state is not protecting the people,” said Tharan. “There have to be outlines for the developers to follow.”

Tharan said the ordinance includes setbacks and bond requirements so if a developer walks away from a site and it has to be cleaned-up, money will be available from the bond.

“We are not trying to discourage solar or wind energy,” said Tharan. “We are trying to protect Clarion County.”

Tharan said there is also an environmental concern.

“There is toxic waste in the batteries and the batteries leak into the ground,” said Tharan. “You don’t know what is in the Lithium batteries that are used in solar farms.”

Clarion County Planner Kristi Amato said several solar farm developers have approached her department. She was unaware of any plans for a wind farm however.

The text of the ordinance is available on the Clarion County website [wind, solar].