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Company proposing solar farm, south of Kuna, hosts community open house

Posted at 10:36 PM, Apr 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-19 16:46:31-04

MELBA, Idaho — Many neighbors are still concerned about the solar farm's location, even after Savion Energy held an open house presentation Tuesday, answering many resident's questions.

  • Neighbors noted concerns to the environment and air quality, threat to rural farmland and effects to housing prices.
  • Savion, who owns Powers Butte Energy Center, tells Idaho News 6 they want to continue the conversation with the community throughout the whole process.
  • Idaho Powers says while they don't have any say in where a renewable energy source farm is, they are in contract negotiations with Savion and anticipate the energy will benefit their growing customer base.
  • Tuesday's meeting's presentation is linked here.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story.)

“This is a very special area of the state, Melba is the seed capital,” said Jim and Joyce Burch, some of the many residents that would see the panels from the solar farm from their home.

Dozens of neighbors gathering in Melba Tuesday evening to learn more about the proposed solar farm that could stretch across more than 2 thousand acres. Asking questions and voicing their concerns…

“For the pros, I’m not sure yet, I need to get a lot more information. It would be nice to see cheaper values on our power bills out here,” said Steve Martinez, a resident and local business owner.

One of the biggest concerns from locals… air quality in the valley should the large batteries start to burn… similarly to the energy station that caught fire in Melba months ago.

PREVIOUS REPORT - Battery fire at Idaho Power substation south of Melba continues to burn through Tuesday night

“We had a fire here not long ago, so there is that hazard, and there is not enough studies to really show,” Martinez

Idaho Power says they’re in need of more power sources, and are currently in contract negotiations with the Powers Butte Energy Center, owned by Savion, that proposed the solar farm.

“They’ve gone through all the development exercises to site their facilities and then 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.

Another concern many neighbors shared with me is how this solar farm could take away from Idaho’s rural farming roots.

PREVIOUS REPORT - Looking to preserve rural farmland, residents speak out against a proposed solar farm

“The most critical natural resources that we have in Idaho are our land and our water. So there is a place for these solar projects but it’s not on desert land that has irrigation rights,” said Burch.

“It’s an over reach and they’re talking away productive farm ground,” said local resident Bill Heusser.

Mitchell Taylor with Savion, telling me their team held this meeting in an effort to share their goals with the community.

With the project spanding through portions of Ada and Canyon County, the next step will be county hearings, with the first being held May 8th for Ada county.

“What are you hoping for?,” said Allie Triepke.

“To shut it down, period,” said Heusser.