Letter to the editor: Solar concern overblown

To the editor:

Chad Lawhorn starts his May 5 front-page story about the Kansas Sky Energy solar farm by mentioning the sod shop north of Lawrence, “a building roughly the size of a football field,” that raised fears of flooding in 2020. Later in the story he states the solar project “would add nearly 8 million square feet of solar panels to the Kansas River valley, the equivalent of about 4,000 homes that are an average of 2,000 square feet in size.”

This dramatic image is followed by an acknowledgement that “the ground beneath the solar panels won’t be covered in concrete.” Indeed, a solar installation with the ground covered in perennial grasses and very little impermeable surfaces is nothing like a football field sized building or 4,000 homes.

The oversight by the county of not adding the 3-year-old stormwater regulations to the county code does nothing to change the requirement that a stormwater plan for the solar project must be approved by the commissioners before construction starts. Farmers and land managers know that the bare soil in cornfields has a much higher amount and rate of stormwater runoff than ground covered in grasses. We will likely learn that the stormwater runoff will be reduced by the solar farm, and, if not, mitigation basins will be required. The county staff and the commissioners have engaged in a thorough, careful and transparent examination of the conditional use permit application before approving it.

Wayne A. White,



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