Sadly, last week, we left Urban Grid’s public information session for Dogwood Solar, the 350 acre, 20-megawatt utility solar project on Dam Acres Road near Stanley with many questions unanswered. And, as we feared, Page County’s approval in 2019 of the project’s special use permit, despite the Alliance’s and partners’ calls to pause consideration of any utility-scale projects until the County’s ordinance was in place, leaves Urban Grid largely unaccountable for protections for Page’s land and water.
BUT, there is action still to be taken. Page County and Urban Grid have yet to draft erosion and sediment control plans for the construction of the project. It is crucial that this process is robust and the resulting permit highly detailed so that the project has the least harmful impact possible on Page’s water quality.
The Alliance has pulled on our experience following projects in other counties to craft a set of recommendations to be included or addressed in the plan that we’ve sent to County staff and decision makers. Statewide, utility solar construction projects are presenting many erosion and sediment control issues that can be addressed with proper measures in place. We want to make sure the County acts on its authority to require things like:
- detailed construction plans that show grading and any intent to remove topsoil
- phased construction to disturb only small amounts of land at a time
- silt fencing around any active construction to reduce runoff
- That Page County hold Urban Grid accountable to a strong and detailed erosion and sediment control plan for construction. You can see our recommendations here.
- Page County MUST have a solar ordinance that requires that details such as erosion and sediment control are addressed BEFORE any more special use permits for utility solar construction are considered. We’ve stood behind the ‘good’ ordinance, originally supported by the planning commission and the community, and still believe this ordinance contains the protections needed to make sure that Page County doesn’t repeat the mistakes made with Dogwood Solar project.
As Page County transitions to renewable energy, we must do so in a way that protects our working landscapes, prime soils and clean water.