Ag News

Bill Would Limit Where Solar Arrays May Be Placed On Farmland

Des Moines, Iowa — A key senator is proposing new restrictions for commercially owned solar installations placed on farmland.

Senate Ag Committee chairman Dan Zumbach says the goal is to establish limits on how close solar arrays may be to property lines, farm buildings and homes.

Zumbach, a Republican from Ryan, says it’s time to set rules for an industry that’s in its infancy. Representatives for utility companies and developers say requiring solar arrays to be 12-hundred feet from a residence or livestock facility would be a project killer. Christopher Rants is a lobbyist NextEra Energy, which is currently developing two solar arrays in Iowa.

The Iowa Farm Bureau supports some restrictions. However, Farm Bureau lobbyist Matt Gronewald warns the bill as currently written may prohibit farmers from installing solar panels to generate electricity for their operations.

Dustin Miller, a lobbyist for the American Clean Power Association, says the restrictions in the bill are pretty onerous.

Last year, Zumbach proposed a ban on placing solar arrays on land rated as highly suitable for growing corn and soybeans. However, Zumbach says he learned that approach would have shifted solar development to areas of the state with the least productive farmland.