Excessive setback waste land
Local setback requirements do not affect the number of solar panels needed to generate a project’s desired power. Efficiently placing the panels defines the minimum acres required.
Boundary setbacks only increase the amount of land necessary. If one could site a 1,000-acre square solar array, then the 50-foot setbacks of the Kentucky Model Solar Ordinance would only increase the land required to 1027 acres or less than 3%.
Adopting the JPC’s recommended 500-foot setback will increase the land required to 1290 acres. Or a 500-foot setback requires over 25% more land than a 50-foot setback. Remember this math is for a square. Real-world Mason County land parcels are often irregular shapes where setbacks will more than double the land required to generate the desired power.
The JPC proposal measures setbacks to the solar farm’s fence rather than the industry norm, which measures to the outer solar panel. Because solar developers pay on the number of acres “inside the fence”, the solar developer will not compensate the landowner for setback acres. Since the landowner will not receive lease payments, that land will not have its taxable real estate property values increased. This means the local tax districts will not receive any extra tax payments.
Assuming 6,000 acres (6,164 acres total) with a 50-foot setback will fill the long-distance grid’s transmission capacity, then with a 500-foot setback, more than 7,741 acres will be required. The landowners and the county would lose the potential solar income from that 1,577 more acres.
PVA Craycraft testified that land taxed at the solar rate would pay $85.92 per acre more local real estate property tax than when taxed as ag. In one year, the 1,577 acres in the extra 450 feet of setback will NOT pay $135,474 in local taxes. Over the 30-year life of the solar farm, the county will lose at least $4 million in local taxes, and it will probably approach $8 million for real-world solar array layouts.
When we remember that screening is also required, it seems evident that while Stop-Solar folks claim to “value the land”, they instead simply want to use excessive setbacks to make solar uneconomical. If the 500 foot setback is accepted it will either completely stop solar in Mason County or cost us all millions in lost local tax revenue.
Someone who genuinely valued local land would favor solar’s ability to reduce soil erosion, ag chem pollution and focus on screening from occupied structures rather than favoring these extreme and complex setbacks.
Rather than the excessive and complex ten categories proposed by the JPC. Limestone Solar recommends this for section 414.08 SETBACK REQUIREMENTS
- An Intermediate or Large Scale Ground Mounted SES, measured from the outer edge of the nearest panel, shall be located at least fifty (50) feet from the SES property line, and fifty (50) feet from the property line of any public road.
- An Intermediate or Large-Scale Ground-Mounted SES, measured from the outer edge of the nearest panel shall be located no closer than two hundred feet from any neighboring buildings permitted for full-time occupancy (i.e. Residential, School, Religious Commercial Building, etc.) other than those on a property which the Ground Mounted SES is to be installed.
- Setbacks are not required where the property line is shared by two or more participating landowners.
- These setback provisions above can be waived in writing by the adjacent property owner to whom the property line or residence setback is applicable.
- Setback requirements may be reduced with dimensional variances issued by the appropriate Board of Adjustment. Applications for dimensional variances must adhere to all requirements set forth in KRS Chapter 100.243 and Section 404 of the Maysville/Mason County Land use Management Ordinance.
- Setback requirements may be expanded by a Board of Adjustment or other authority having jurisdiction, as a condition of approval of a Conditional Use Permit, where deemed necessary to assure effective screening or mitigate issues in noise-sensitive areas.