NewsLocal NewsIn Your ParishIberia Parish

Actions

Solar farming debate continues on in Iberia Parish

With the Iberia Parish Council set to vote on a moratorium this coming Wednesday, weighing the pros and cons of solar farming continues.
Posted at 7:59 PM, Jul 08, 2024
  • The Iberia Parish Council is set to vote on whether or not the parish-wide solar farm moratorium will be extended another year.
  • According to Parish President Larry Richard, the ban was originally put in place because there was, and continues to be, nothing regulating solar farms in Iberia Parish.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

"It's basically just two pieces of glass with a little bit of magic in between 'em."

University of Louisiana—Lafayette (UL) sophomore, Wyatt Stoute, is spending his summer as an undergraduate research apprentice.

"Really right now, what I'm most interested in is kind of looking at the degradation, cause solar panels can get damaged by wind, the environment...all kinds of things."

Working alongside Dr. Terrence Chambers at UL's College of Engineering, Stoute landed himself on the front page of 'La Louisiane' magazine.

"Solar really hooked me because you can produce electricity but you can also produce processed heat," Stoute explained, "which a lot of factories and a lot of industries can use."

Despite the multi-billion dollar solar panel manufacturing site, First Solar, that's currently being built in Iberia Parish, many residents do not support solar farming.

A Facebook page titled No Industrial/Utility Solar in Iberia Parish is bringing people together with this common viewpoint, citing 'involved risk to health, fire, drainage, the environment, the parish, and its people.'

"We haven't seen anything that causes any major issues," said Robert Bentley, the facilities coordinator at UL's Solar Lab. “The big disadvantage with solar is just that it's intermittent; and so storage of electricity has to catch up to solar before it becomes any kind of a threat to anything."

This Wednesday, the Iberia Parish Council will vote on whether or not to extend the temporary ban on solar farming throughout the parish. Here is the exact language from the agenda:

Summary No. 127: (Introduced by James P. Trahan, District 8)
A resolution amending Resolution No. 2024-23, and extending the temporary moratorium on the development, establishment, and/or construction of solar farms in the unincorporated areas of Iberia Parish for an additional period of one year, specifically until August 26, 2025.
Note: A motion to Suspend the Rules is needed as this item was not considered by the Joint Committee.

According to Parish President Larry Richard, the ban was originally put in place because there was, and continues to be, nothing regulating solar farms in Iberia Parish.

Richard also says that having this item on the agenda “doesn't say we want, or do not want anything. We just want to make sure we're doing the right thing for the people of Iberia Parish."

The Iberia Parish Council meets on Wed. July 10 at 6:00 p.m. in the Iberia Parish Courthouse.