Legislative-mandated changes in how local officials can regulate the location of solar farms is coming before the Polk County Planning Commission on Wednesday.
The change will allow these facilities to be located in rural lands with only administrative review unless they fall under the Power Plant Siting Act, which so far the applicants have sized their proposals to avoid.
The only disputes have involved plans to locate a solar farm in the middle of the historic Chicora community in southwest Polk because of concerns over its compatibility with surrounding homesteads and a proposal to locate a solar farm in the northern sections of Lake Alfred because city officials wanted to develop the land for houses instead even though solar farms will require fewer city services than new subdivisions.
The solar farms will still, so far, require a willing seller rather than condemnation. The effort locally has been led by Tampa Electric, which is attempting to increase its non-fossil fuel footprint in its service area.