Solar energy developer faces questions, comments from wind-tempered board

Questions about decommissioning, coolness toward solar energy among discussion


CLINTON — County officials were aware there were solar energy developers looking at DeWitt County as a future project site.  On Monday, the county’s land use committee heard from one of those developers.

Monday’s virtual meeting between committee members and the Swift Current Energy project manager was cordial, but the manager of the proposed solar project faced sharp questions and comments from officials now tempered by their experiences in trying to regulate wind energy in the county.

Daniel Sheehan, a project manager for Swift, gave land use members an overview of the proposed Triple Black Diamond solar project to be located about three miles southwest of  Weldon.

“We’re looking to develop a 250 megawatt solar project,” Sheehan said.

The $290 million project would encompass approximately 1,700 acres.

“We’re working with a couple of land owners.  We’re in the middle of the development stage right now,” Sheehan said.

He said the company was still in the process of securing property it needs for the project and was ready to begin pursuing a special use permit from the county.  The company’s wetland and other studies for the project are currently underway.  Sheehan said he would supply the county with a book outlining steps taken to comply with the conditions of the permit, “once those are complete.”

Sheehan also said Swift would include a complete decommissioning plan with its project application.

The total estimated tax revenue for the county over 35 years would be $44 million, about $1.3 per year split among the local taxing districts.

Based on how the state places valuation on solar projects per megawatt, committee chairman Terry Ferguson questioned the accuracy of Sheehan’s figures.

 “I don’t think your numbers are right,” Ferguson said.

Sheehan said he would double-check the information and send the committee a sheet showing how the figures are broken down.

Swift plans to be ready for public hearings for the project by the third quarter of 2021.  He said they were working by a 90-day schedule toward that goal.

• See the complete story in the Friday, Apr. 16 print edition of the Clinton Journal or Wednesday in the Journal E-Edition for subscribers.