After a California company applied to build a second, larger solar farm in West Baton Rouge Parish, local leaders tapped the brakes on the project this month following questions on how the project would impact the community's look.
The state's first utility-scale solar farm, a 50-megawatt solar energy plant west of Port Allen, went online in the parish earlier this year.
Weeks later, San Francisco-based firm Bueche PV1 LLC, filed a notice with Louisiana Economic Development earlier this year to build an even larger solar energy farm north of Port Allen on Bueche Road.
But the project has gotten somewhat of a lukewarm reception among some residents and parish leaders, who have said they want some control on how the solar farm will look.
In response, the West Baton Rouge Parish Council passed a 60-day moratorium on solar farm construction earlier this month.
Over the next three years, there could be enough solar-generated electricity in Louisiana to power 60,000 homes in a state rich with oil and g…
With solar energy becoming more prevalent throughout the state, parish leaders say they hope to use that 60-day window to draft an ordinance for requirements like buffer zones from homes, fencing and rules for maintaining solar farm properties.
“We’re not saying we don’t want solar in West Baton Rouge Parish, but I just know that we want to make sure that they’re going in the right places and right time,” said parish council member Alan Crowe at a recent meeting.
Parish leaders also say they’ve been at times displeased with the recently completed solar farm because ditches and grass on the property aren’t always maintained. The facility is also highly visible from Rosedale Road, prompting criticism from nearby homeowners.
Parish President Riley “Pee Wee” Berthelot Jr. said he feels a set of rules will help address those concerns as the new project moves forward.
“It seems like everyone’s willing to come to the table in good faith,” he said.
LED estimates the project will cost about $240 million, with construction starting in 2022 and wrapping up at the end of the following year. It’s also expected to support some 430 temporary construction jobs and create one permanent job when completed.
The company has also submitted plans with the state to build similar solar farms in Pride and East Feliciana Parish.
A public hearing on the proposed ordinance will be held on Jan. 14 in West Baton Rouge Parish. If passed, the company building the solar farm can move forward after meeting the proposed specifications.
A West Baton Rouge Parish solar farm capable of supplying thousands of homes with power was plugged into the capital region's electrical grid …