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Neighbors fighting solar farm plans

(WILX)
Published: Oct. 31, 2019 at 4:39 PM EDT
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Homeowners in Eaton County are worried a major solar power farm may be moving in next door.

The 850-acre project named 'Sandstone Creek Solar' will be near Needmore and Pinch Highway in Benton Township.

Geronimo Energy, a renewable energy company, applied for a permit with Eaton County about two weeks ago.

According to the company, the proposed solar energy system will generate enough energy to power more than 23,000 homes annually and will reduce greenhouse emissions by more than 135,000 metric tons of carbon a year.

"It's easy living. Beautiful views. Nice place to be. Calm and quiet," Charles Meddaugh said of his home of 15 years nearby the proposed site. He's concerned the solar field will affect his wife's health.

"My wife has MS. She's susceptible to heat. What happens when you blow wind through 600 acres of hot steel and solar panels and have it drift across? It's going to raise the ambient temperature."

Geronimo Energy said that it has deep roots in agriculture and prides itself on developing renewable energy projects that are farmer friendly and beneficial for rural communities, but Meddaugh still has questions.

"The application that has gone in is very ambiguous. We might do this, but we might do that. We're not going to put in any buildings, but we might put in a 100 by 60 building. There's nothing in it that says exactly what they're going to do," he said.

There will be a public hearing before the Eaton County Planning Commission on December 3rd.

We've asked Geronimo Energy to respond to the neighbors' complaints, but we haven't heard back.

Benton Township's board is looking into putting its own zoning rules in place, as well as a moratorium on solar applications for up to a year. Right now, the township has to follow what Eaton County decides.

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