Shelby County farmland is under siege from out-of-state power companies looking to create “solar farms.”
An 1,800-acre facility has already been approved for installation in northeastern Shelby County.
Southwestern Shelby County is the next target site but there is strong opposition from local residents determined to keep a second local “solar farm” from setting up shop.
Indiana lieutenant governor Suzanne Crouch believes the state should allow communities to make their own decisions as to how much “green energy” originates from land inside its borders.
“We very much support local decisions being made regarding those kinds of issues,” said Crouch Friday during a visit to Fischer Seeds in Shelbyville. “I’m a former county commissioner and no one knows their community better than local elected officials. So there is a role for them and they are the ones that have their fingers on the pulse of the community. They are the ones that should be making the decisions for what is best for their county. And they can be held accountable to the voters.”
Fifty-eight state representatives believe differently. House Bill 1381, which would remove the veto power of county commissioners, was approved last week, 58-38. State representative Sean Eberhart (R-Shelbyville) was one of the 58 votes.
The bill next goes in front of the senate.
SPower, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, has been identified as the latest power company looking to create a solar facility in Shelby County. A representative has approached several land owners seeking to lease or purchase land. The landowner can then make a decision to be a part of the project or decline to become involved.
Money is certainly a factor in the decision. And landowner’s rights are protected to an extent. That makes getting involved a sticky proposition.
“It’s almost one of those economic development vs. quality of life issues,” said Crouch. “And what you want is for economic development and quality of life to be able to intersect so it benefits the community the most.”
As vaccinations mount across the state, COVID-19 statistics are in decline.
“When you look at the statistics, and everything is driven by data, almost 93% of Hoosiers that are dying are 60 and above,” said Crouch during her one-on-one interview with the Shelby County Post. “That’s 93% of the deaths. So if you can get that older segment of the population vaccinated, while other people may get sick and be asymptomatic and have other symptoms, the likelihood of them dying is not as great.
“So that’s why a couple weeks in January we were at a 17% positivity rate and we are 5% right now. As you are getting that population vaccinated, you are cutting down on those deaths and the hospitals have a chance.”
Vaccinations started with first responders and those in the oldest age groups. The age groups eligible for vaccination have been lowering but last week’s winter weather slowed down the process, according to Crouch.
One group that has not yet been approved for vaccinations is teachers.
“We’re focused on saving lives,” said Crouch. “That’s why we are focusing on those elderly Hoosiers getting vaccinated. Then, as we get those vaccinated, and we feel the data is compelling enough, we will start moving into other groups.
“And I can’t tell you how many teachers that have told me and Gov. (Eric) Holcomb that they are so grateful that their parents and grandparents are getting vaccinated because they realize that they are the ones most vulnerable.”