The Hillsdale County Board of Commissioners spent some time discussing the future of solar farms and agricultural land in the region during Tuesday’s regular board meeting.
Commissioner Steve Lanius said now is the time for officials to take a serious look at the impact that large solar farms will have on the county’s farm land.
He said Litchfield Township is currently in the midst of a debate about the location of proposed solar projects.
Projects are in the works in Scipio township as well.
There’s concern that the large-scale solar projects, which are often built on agricultural land, will limit the region’s capacity to produce crops.
Commissioners Brad Benzing and Brent Leininger cautioned their fellow board members against overstepping their bounds on the issue.
Leininger said denying the use of private property for private use would amount to a government overreach.
Benzing said doing so would deny property owners the income from solar leases; He said it would also deny the county the increase in property taxes that solar farms will bring.
There’s been a recent push for solar farms and other renewable energy projects across the state in recent years. Benzing said the increase in the number of projects is prompted by a requirement that utilities in Michigan produce 20-percent of their electricity from renewable sources within the next couple years.
Lanius said government subsidies are another factor in the increased interest in solar power.