Montour County commissioners and residents address concerns over solar energy complex

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DANVILLE, MONTOUR COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Montour County, whose residents worried about a proposed solar farm in their backyard, got a chance to hear from county officials on Tuesday.

The proposed development, discussed briefly on Tuesday, would be one of, if not the largest solar energy complex in the commonwealth.

Citizens say they’re concerned about the environmental impact, while the county believes a reasonable solution can be reached.

“It’s their land, but it’s our environment,” says Sandra Johnston, head of Montour County Concerned Citizens Group.

On Tuesday, Montour County commissioners addressed concerns about Montour Solar One’s plans to convert roughly 1,000 acres of county farmland for solar energy use.

Johnston says it’s not merely an aesthetic issue, but an environmental one.

“The farmers have been good stewards, and they’ve fed that land so it would grow good crops. And they want to cover it up with solar panels… Not to mention the wildlife habitat that they’re going to disturb.”

Andria Lamay is another Montour County resident with reservations about the project.

Lamay’s primary concern is economic. She believes the energy produced from the panels will be pricier, at the expense of reliable forms of pre-existing energy.

“As we begin to take offline reliable, efficient, affordable forms of energy, what’s going to happen is we’re going to go into a variable, intermittent type of energy that is going to be more expensive,” says Lamay.

But county leaders believe a solution can still be reached.

“We should be able to do it, and do it right, that we protect both the environment, the neighbors, the farmland, and we allow the production of green energy,” says Ken Holdren, chairman of Montour County board of commissioners.

Holdren adds that while potential county approval remains many months away. Community concerns have weighed heavily into his office’s instruction through this evaluative phase.

“There’s a lot of public input, there’s a lot of process that has to take place. As the Montour County board of commissioners, the direction that we’ve given to the planning commission is, ‘take your time, do it right.'”

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