Letter to the editor: Solar power at what cost?

To the editor:

On Saturday I had the privilege of participating in a truly American exercise in democracy, as the Douglas County Commission heard testimony from both sides on the commercial solar development north of town. While the commission reached the wrong decision (from my viewpoint) in approving the project’s conditional use permit, it took many hours of testimony (including mine) before reaching its decision. While one might assume the discussion is over, in fact nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it will be some time before ground is broken on this project.

In the staff presentation, it was emphasized that a number of key decisions still remain for the commission to pass on. Among these were the issues of stormwater retention/runoff and the nebulous issue of agrivoltaics (agriculture amid electricity production). Agrivoltaics is much like obscenity; as a Supreme Court justice once said, he couldn’t define it, but he knew it when he saw it. We should be so lucky.

I sincerely hope that this commission of three members and the coming one of five will have the courage to hold Evergy accountable through the rest of this process, and not be stampeded into approvals just because this one was made. As a former employee of Evergy’s predecessor (KPL), I know it will seek the cheapest option available. I hope our commission will make sure that option is the best for us; solar power is good, but at what cost?

Jeff Southard,



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