Area farmers and rural landowners are getting hit from all sides. First there are the wind generation farms that growing in size and scope. Farmers and county officials deal with road and drainage repair issues that may come up as a result of maintenance or upgrades to the units.
Next come the threats of eminent domain if farmers do not sign on to the carbon pipeline programs that are being proposed. The Iowa Legislature failed to remedy the situation as bills designed to prohibit the use of eminent domain failed in committee leaving farmers and landowners to rely on the decision of the Iowa Utilities Board to permit or deny the pipelines.
What legislators are wrangling over now is the installation of solar panels on area farmland. The state Senate is proposing that they can only be installed on less productive farmland and a half mile away from other solar panel fields. Another stipulation is that they can be no less than 1,250 feet from the nearest neighboring landowner.
Rob Hach who is the Chief Executive Officer with Trusted Energy explains that his company who is involved in setting up these solar farms, works directly with farmers and landowners. He is well aware of the concerns by others.
Some of these energy projects involve a large amount of property dedicated to the project. Hach stated that is not the case with his company.
Hach is also aware of the eminent domain issue involving carbon pipeline companies trying to move carbon from ethanol plants to bedrock in the Dakotas. This can sometime cause friction between landowners and utilities trying to establish sites. Hach stated that his company does not use eminent domain laws.
The intent is not to hamper farmers with farming on productive ground. The bill before the Legislature limits solar farming to ground that is rated 65 or lower in corn productivity. Any land that is above that rating may need to have power lines buried so that the generated power can be relayed to a power station. In that case, Hachs company takes extra precautions.
What all of this is leading to is that there are distinct advantages to solar farming over wind generation.
This gives area farmers and landowners with less productive farmland an option that could benefit their bottom line and their neighbor too.