Save the date: Douglas County Commission to hold special meeting on proposed solar farm

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Douglas County commissioners will hold a work session and a special Saturday meeting this spring to discuss a permit for a massive solar farm north of Lawrence.

The Kansas Sky Energy Center, a 159-megawatt solar farm, would be built, owned and operated by Evergy with designs provided by Savion LLC, a division of Royal Dutch Shell based out of Kansas City.

The solar farm would comprise 237,300 solar modules, 43 inverter stations, and solar tracking systems. The farm would be located on parcels that constitute 1,105 acres north of Lawrence, west of the airport and south of Midland Junction. If approved, construction on the solar facility will begin in early 2025.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission in December split 4-4 on the proposal. A tied vote results in a recommendation for denial, but Douglas County commissioners will make the final decision.

Planning commissioners during a roughly eight-hour meeting discussed a range of issues, including environmental and economic concerns, impacts on area traffic, possible herbicide use, stormwater, wildlife corridors where animals can pass through the farm, noise thresholds and more. Much of the deliberation centered on the tension between two competing environmental goals: the need for renewable energy and the need to preserve agricultural land. 

Here’s a zoomable map of the proposed project’s site area, and a map indicating the approximate location’s proximity to other landmarks. (Click here to open it in a new tab.)

Kansas-Sky-Energy-Center-site-map-r

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The Douglas County Commission will first have a work session starting at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 27 to discuss the conditional use permit the applicants are seeking. Commissioners will not take any action during that meeting, and there will be no public comment.

The commission will hold a special business meeting starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 13 to hear public comment, discuss, and consider action on the permit, according to a news release from the county.

The locations for both meetings will be announced at a later date because the commission’s regular meeting room in the historic courthouse might be under construction.

People may provide written public comment by emailing publiccomment@douglascountyks.org or by filling out the form at this link.

Commission meeting information is posted on the county’s website, and agendas are posted on the portal at this link.

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Kaw Valley Almanac for April 22-28, 2024

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