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Using La. farmland for solar panel sites?

Entergy has purchased power from this solar facility in West Baton Rouge Parish. (Photo courtesy of Entergy)

BATON ROUGE — The House Agriculture Committee advanced a resolution to create a task force to study the impact of using farmland for solar energy developments.

House Concurrent Resolution 45, written by state Rep. Phillip DeVillier, R-Eunice, states the Louisiana Solar Siting Task Force would “study the impact of, and alternatives to, locating solar energy developments on farmland.”

The discussion featured state Rep. Danny McCormick, R-Oil City, expressing his concern that solar farms would destroy more jobs than they would create and that the task force would be filled by members with ties to the solar farming industry.

State Rep. Vincent St. Blanc III, R-Franklin, responded that the task force’s job would be to protect farmers from making costly mistakes. He noted that many farmers' decisions to lease land for large installations of solar panels did not pan out.

The resolution is the latest action to try to control or limit where solar panels are located. Previous legislative measures sought to suspended tax incentives and other public financial support for certain utility-scale solar projects.

International energy experts say that the world is gradually reducing its use of oil and gas and shifting to greater use of renewable fuels like solar and wind power. To capture new jobs, other oil and gas states, like Texas and Oklahoma, have provided more incentives for alternative energy projects than Louisiana has.

But farmers in Louisiana say they cannot pay as much as big utility companies to lease land, and some local officials say there are few jobs at the solar farms after they are built.


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