County seeking input on solar panels |

County seeking input on solar panels

Staff Reports
A proposal for 260 acres of solar panels in Carson Valley is the subject of a lawsuit after being denied by county commissioners.
Kurt Hildebrand |

There’s only one utility scale photovoltaic solar facility in the pipeline for Carson Valley, and it’s in Douglas County District Court.

Behind the Minden-Gardnerville Sanitation District pond, Greenstone Renewable’s proposal is winding through the courts, even as a new ordinance governing big solar plants is winding its way through the county.

Residents are being asked to provide input on new rules being written for utility scale photovoltaic solar facilities.

The Douglas County Community Development Department is holding a public outreach meeting 5:30–6:30 p.m. Monday at the Carson Valley Medical Center Room at the Douglas County Community & Senior Center, 1329 Waterloo Lane, Gardnerville.

On June 4, 2015, County Commissioners adopted ordinance 2015-1436 placing a temporary moratorium on utility scale solar facilities.

This ordinance allows a reasonable and responsible amount of time for the county to evaluate and consider public health, safety, and general welfare of the residents and citizens of the county regarding the existing regulations governing solar photovoltaic facilities.

The input received at the meeting will be forwarded to the Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners and considered in preparing the revised regulations.

Under state law, the county must have an ordinance that allows the facilities on private property. The ordinance does not affect small solar panel installations.

For more information regarding this meeting please contact Hope Sullivan at 782-6200.

The county’s solar ordinance is unrelated to the recent hearings at the Public Utility Commission about rooftop solar operations.

The Muller Lane plant was denied by Douglas County commissioners last summer. That denial prompted a lawsuit seeking to overturn the county’s decision.

So far the case is running to eight volumes of record, about a yard thick.

Under a schedule set by District Judge Tod Young, Greenstone and the county have until March 31 to file arguments. Greenstone is seeking a summary judgment, which won’t be heard until after the filings.

Carlo Luri, who is the government affairs representative for Bently Enterprises, said that the moratorium expiring in June will prevent any further solar projects.

“This closes the window on any future investment by solar enterprises,” he said. “The tax credit expires at end of 2016, and the money we would receive from that will probably be invested in other states or counties.”