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Still no decision: Ada County Commissioners listen to hours of public testimony for a solar farm proposal

Wednesday night was the second public hearing for residents to share their support or opposition for the project that is proposed south of Kuna
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Posted at 11:17 PM, Jul 10, 2024

ADA COUNTY, Idaho — Wednesday night was the second public hearing for residents to share their support or opposition for the project that is proposed south of Kuna.

  • Ada County Commissioners said they want time to go over documents and testimony with their legal team.
  • Savion Energy, the company that owns Powers Butte Energy Center, also had a chance to share a rebuttal and answer commissioner's questions.
  • A decision to approve or deny the project could be made by the end of the month, at the July 30 meeting.
  • Watch the full public hearing meeting here.
  • We will continue to follow this story.

(Broadcast transcript)

The hearing to decide the fate of a proposed solar farm, south of Kuna, continuing Wednesday night… after no decision was made at the hearing in May.

Some residents encouraging the commissioners to approve the project, “I much prefer solar panels to maintain the rural feel of this area of Idaho over housing developments,” said Brian Merrell, a Kuna Resident who works for the Beus family.

“There is very little to no risk for the people, and I respectfully ask you to support,” said Shane Beus, who owns a portion of the land that will be sold for the solar farm.

While many urged the commissioners to deny it, “Just because our location is monetarily cheaper, it does not mean it is the least costly option. The cost to our homes our livelihood, our safety to our community is beyond measure,” said Esther from Melba.

“I am concerned about the loss of quality of living for myself, friends and neighbors in my community,” said Desiree Jones, Kuna Resident, in opposition.

Following the end of public comment, Savion Energy, the company that is proposing the Powers Butte Energy Center had the chance for a rebuttal to all the opposition and answer any of the commission’s questions. They say a solar farm is the ideal quiet neighbor.

While Ada County staff advised commissioners to approve the project…

Dozens of neighbors opposing showing up to the meeting in shirts saying “NO solar on farm ground,” echoing the words I have heard over the last few months while speaking to residents who live near the proposed site.

“This is our beauty, this is what people are moving here to be around, I don’t want to lose that, I don’t want my kids to lose that,” said Justine Krivanec, a mother and resident near the proposed solar panel farm.

Prior to Wednesday night’s hearing, I spoke with Rob Frank, a county commissioner-elect in Eastern Oregon. He traveled over state lines to share his opposition to solar farms on agricultural land.

“I just feel strongly about the preservation of production agriculture and open spaces. And I thought that the experience that I had on the planning commission and the education in agriculture, understanding the land classifications and land use… [that] it would be worth coming over and talking to the people with vested interest,” said Frank.