St. James Parish temporary blocks solar farms, despite pleas from Entergy CEO, advocates by David J. Mitchell
Some officials who supported the halt said the moratorium is an effort to update land use rules that weren't designed to account for solar farms. They also pushed back against what they called false claims on social media that this halt and review was really an attempt to permanently block solar operations.
The temporary moratorium follows the lead of some other rural parishes in Louisiana, like Pointe Coupee, Washington and Tangipahoa, which have previously adopted bans to update their own development rules.
Utilities and other big power users are increasingly turning to solar as they look to add low-carbon sources of electricity to meet long-term government and corporate climate goals. To do that, they need big tracts of land in the state's far-flung places.
Tripp Roy, director of development with D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments, which is behind the solar farms proposed in Vacherie, said he supported the analysis the parish was pursuing and wished to help parish officials develop new siting rules.
But Roy, who has been speaking to the council for months, asked for a shorter moratorium to no avail.
Under current plans, Entergy would use the power from the proposed DESRI farms.
Residents who would live near the DESRI project in Vacherie just west of the La. 20 corridor supported the moratorium. They said farms would be too close to homes, lower property values and, in this case, they claimed, pose a flying debris risk during major hurricanes.
Others however, questioned why the parish hadn't taken similar concern and time with large petrochemical projects proposed primarily in the parish's northern areas, where St. James' Black population is most concentrated.
The parish's land use lawyer said the moratorium wouldn't take effect until next month after legal notice and other requirements are met.
Photo of the St. James Solar Farm in Vacherie by Michael Johnson
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