By Terri Dee
Indiana News Service
MUNCIE — A proposal to allow utility-scale solar operations for Washington Township in Delaware County is meeting with some setbacks and one nonpartisan group thinks it is time for more discussion.
Almost 200,000 Indiana homes are powered by solar energy, but the Delaware County Commission issued a moratorium on solar development in 2022. It created a study committee for further review, but the unexpected death of a commissioner delayed the creation of a new ordinance.
Linda Hanson, spokesperson for the League of Women Voters of Muncie-Delaware County, said the community needs to use the city’s resources economically and responsibly.
“We believe that natural resources should be managed as interrelated parts of life-supporting ecosystems,” Hanson explained. “We need to conserve and protect those resources for future availability.”
The League backs ending the moratorium and passing an ordinance to approve solar installations in the Muncie area, based on a responsible review of each proposal on its individual merits. Another hearing is scheduled for Oct. 2.
Landowners in towns from Gaston to Matthews are voicing concerns about their property values potentially dropping if more solar farms are built. Some are also upset they were notified about a 2021 ordinance for another solar project, meadow Forge, after it had been approved.
Hanson thinks the commissioners are leaning toward lifting the moratorium and allowing more solar development, with sufficient review.
“You try and look at how this can work responsibly, and that seems to be where we’re getting pushback,” Hanson said. “When we track it, it seems to be coming from people who have investments in coal and petroleum.”
Indiana is already home to the Mammoth Solar farm in Starke and Pulaski Counties. The 13,000-acre facility is the country’s largest. Built in 2021, the farm is expected to bring $1.5 billion in investment into the state over the next five years.