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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Heartland manager outlines plans for Linn County solar field

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

Heartland Electric Cooperative is seeking to install a seven-acre solar field north of Mound City. (Wix stock photo)

MOUND CITY – Tony Washington, electric systems manager of Heartland Electric Cooperative, gave a presentation to the Linn County Planning Commission on Tuesday, March 14, about a solar field they were hoping to build near the Enbridge Pipeline Station north of Mound City.

Washington told the group that they were looking at trying to keep the power bills down and one way of doing that was installing solar fields.

Washington said that Heartland was looking at using seven acres they have purchased near the pipeline building to build a solar field in Linn County. Heartland already has solar fields in Neosho and Crawford counties and are just finishing up the installation of a 750 kilowatt solar field in Bourbon County.

All of the power generated from the solar field in Linn County will be used in Linn County as they do not have the ability to push power back into the grid, explained Washington.

When asked by planning board member Dave Berglund if the solar panels had any toxic materials in them, Washington said he was not sure what was in them but it was not toxic.

Washington explained that, because Heartland is a nonprofit organization, it is only allowed to generate 15% of its power, so they did not plan on expanding in the county.

He said that the solar field would be additional power when the company was experiencing a heavy load. Right now, they use diesel generators, which are highly regulated by the Clean Air Act and do not produce as much power.

Washington explained that only some substations have the capability of taking the energy generated by the solar panels and the one in Linn County was one of them.

Berglund asked if Heartland would be able to sell carbon credits for using the solar panels.

Washington said he was not aware of any opportunity to do that.

Washington told the planning commission that this size solar field was a small footprint compared to windmills being used. In answer to another question by Berglund, he said that the area would be enclosed with a 6-foot-high chainlink fence with barbed wire on the top. Animals would have difficulty getting into the area.

He explained that the panels would produce about 400 volts of DC power which would be converted to AC power and pushed into the transformer.

“It’s pretty simple how it works,” said Washington.

Planning Commission Chair Richard Morrell said that the commission hoped to have the zoning regulations completed and hold a public hearing in late April. The new zoning regulations will address the regulations for solar power in Linn County.

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