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Letter to the Times: Utility-scale solar energy is an urgent need

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Note: The Lawrence Times runs opinion columns and letters to the Times written by community members with varying perspectives on local issues. These pieces do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Times staff.

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The League of Women Voters of Lawrence-Douglas County supports the development of utility-scale solar energy in Douglas County. Utility-scale solar is urgently needed to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity.

The Lawrence-Douglas County LWV is conducting a multi-year study to develop League policies to promote renewable energy and energy conservation. Through our study, we support the utility-scale solar Kansas Sky Energy Project, which is under consideration by the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission. The company’s project website can be found at kansasskyenergycenter.com.

Some have criticized the Kansas Sky Energy Project because they feel area land should only be used for agriculture. The proposed project includes dual land use, for solar energy generation and for agricultural uses (agrivoltaics). The project’s Vegetative & Agrivoltaics Management Plan includes a variety of vegetation and soil improvements including pollinator habitat. Importantly, there are willing landowners already contracted for this project.

Some have criticized utility-scale solar in Douglas County because they don’t want such an installation in their backyard. The elephant we currently have in our collective backyard is a coal-fired power plant. Utility-scale solar is non-polluting, generates tax revenue, and does not require water or the mining and burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity that will go directly into the current energy grid. 

We encourage the planning commission to recommend the utility-scale solar Kansas Sky Energy Project to the Douglas County Commission. Planning commissioners will consider the project at their December meeting.

— Carol Williamson (she/her), president, League of Women Voters of Lawrence-Douglas County

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