One of sites for proposed solar farm within Chicora community in rural Polk
Tuesday the Polk County Commission will hear an appeal of the Planning Commission’s denial of a request by Tampa Electric to get approval to expand its solar farms in the Chicora community in southwest Polk.
Whatever the hearing’s outcome turns out to be, pending legislation being considered this year in Tallahassee will take away commissioners’ discretion on future solar farms in rural areas if the bill passes and becomes law.
The legislation, HB 761, would double the size of solar farms that can be developed without going through the Florida Power Plant Siting Act and allow them by right in any agriculturally zoned property.
Although Sierra supports the expansion of solar and other green energy sources, the effects on farmers and rural homeowners could be potentially significant.
The is also one of a quartet of proposed bills that seek to wrest local control over energy policy and the siting of energy infrastructure and place all of it the hands of the Legislature and the lobbyists.
The Chicora case is interesting because the residents aren’t even TECO customers. They are served by the Peace River Electric Cooperative.
Although the solar farm itself will be visually buffered by a line of trees, residents object to the prison-like security fence around the site, which was formerly occupied by a citrus grove.