Proposed solar use amendments approved

Published 10:22 am Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Following an Oct. 4 public hearing, the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors approved the proposed solar use amendments as recommended by the Charlotte County Planning Commission.

During the public comment period at the October meeting of the Supervisors, Charlotte Court House citizen Terry Ramsey spoke regarding decommission solar facilities.

“Since decommissioning of a solar facility will occur 30-40 years in the future, it is impossible to predict with certainty all future costs,” said Ramsey. “For example, there may be environmental issues not known today or subsequent changes in Federal or state laws which affect costs. There may be an administrative error in renewing a bond or letter of credit which leaves the County without adequate surety. The facility owner/operator may be LLCs with no assets to cover costs.”

He said the Board should do everything possible to protect the taxpayers from having to pay the costs of removing a solar facility.

Additionally, Ramsey said landowner responsibility was mentioned at both the June 11 and Oct. 4 joint public hearings regarding the solar use amendments.

He asked the Board to consider adding a provision stating the facility owner/operator and owner of the land would be jointly responsible and “liable for any costs to the County in excess of the amounts the County otherwise collects from the bond or other surety.”

County Planner and Purchaser Monica Elder said the County’s Attorney Russell Slayton did not feel it was necessary to address both issues through the ordinance.

SolUnesco Ceo Francis Hodsoll, who also spoke during the public comment period, said his company looks forward to working with the county and making sure it is a win-win situation for everyone.

He said solar is an industry coming to the region that can have significant impact.

“When it comes to the issue that Mr. Ramsey raised, my only comment on this is that I would recommend we not make last minute changes to anything,” said Hodsoll. “We’re about to submit an application to this county. We’re happy to talk through these issues and educate people and use real estate lawyer professionals that have a lot of experience in rights and what’s the correct way to make sure that people are appropriately protected without having unintended consequences by making last minute changes …”

Kathy Liston, a citizen from the Aspen district, said she objected to Hodsoll being able to speak during the public comment period.

“It has been the policy of this board … that only citizens of the county be allowed to speak during the public comment period …”

Red House/Cullen Supervisor Dr. Nancy Carwile said Hodsoll was out of order.

However, she said she wanted to commend the Planning Commission. “This has been one of the most difficult and lengthy processes …”

Red Oak/Wylliesburg Supervisor Kay Pierantoni said she also wanted to commend Dr. Carwile for her involvement, the Planning Commission and Elder for their hard work.

She said she felt good about the decision to move forward as recommended by the Planning Commission because there is a strong team to defend the concerns raised by Ramsey.

Pierantoni thanked Ramsey for his citizen involvement.

“He brings things to light that we need to consider…” she said.