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Farmland owners selling their properties for solar farm share their perspectives

Posted at 7:55 PM, Apr 25, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-25 21:56:14-04

KUNA, Idaho — Landowners selling their properties see positives in solar energy farms. Idaho Power says they’re negotiating with developers like Savion, “to reliably and economically serve” Treasure Valley customers.

  • Savion energy company owns the proposed 2,385 acre Powers Butte Energy Center project.
  • Many neighbors have expressed concerns that the solar farm will take away from Idaho's rural farming roots.
  • Landowners say Savion has provided detailed information on what the solar farm will look like after the private sale.

(Below is the transcript from the broadcast story)

Dennis and Patricia Dunlop have owned their farmland for nearly 30 years. In that time, they’ve seen how the Treasure Valley and their land have changed.

“The loss of farmland is an issue. So we understand that, but it’s our conclusion that this is a better use for it,” said Dennis Dunlop.

The solar farm project…Powers Butte Energy Center, owned by Savion, is proposed to be over 2,000 acres… with 600 coming from the sale of the Dunlop's property

“This project is going to be better for the general area, in a new use, then in its current farming use,” said Dunlop.

Over 500 acres in Canyon and Ada Counties are already owned by Powers Butte Energy Center… to complete the 2,385 acres…the other property owner selling, Shane Beus tells me his land was listed for sale before Savion approached him, and he’s in favor of energy developments that he says “would make financial sense.”

As I previously reported, some neighbors raised concerns about negative impacts to the environment, like if a substation battery burns for days, affecting air quality.

Owners I spoke to say the solar farm could be more environmentally friendly because they would no longer need to use fertilizers and chemicals that they use on current farms.

“Because our assessment of what the plan involves, and the nature of solar, was that a solar panel operation is probably going to be a very good neighbor,” said Dunlop.

Idaho Power tells me they’re negotiating with Savion and many other developers “to reliably and economically serve” Treasure Valley customers.

“Ultimately the result will be a power purchase or other contacts with Idaho Power, but we don’t actually influence the locationality of where those facilities are ultimately sited,” said Eric Hackett with Idaho Power.

They’re looking for much-needed energy resources to be online by summer 2026.

The land owners say they've been provided with more than enough information on what the project will look like after the private sale is completed.

“In our dealings with Savion we’ve found them to be very upfront and straight with us, so I’ve appreciated the time they’ve put in,” said Dunlop.