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Residents voice opposition at town hall for Oconto County solar development project

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 10:44 PM CDT
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OCONTO FALLS, Wis. (WBAY) - Residents of an Oconto County town aired their grievances during a Wednesday night against a proposed solar farm.

A Florida-based developer says the project is far from getting off the ground and people shouldn’t rush to judgment.

Karen Nelson Kispert has been living in the town of Morgan for nearly 30 years and she’s helping to orchestrate opposition towards the proposed solar development.

“This is industrial. This is not small scale personal use solar at all, and that’s where I have a problem because this is agricultural land,” Nelson Kispert said.

She also expressed concern over the value of her home depreciating because of the solar panels.

“I’ve spent hours of hours of time researching this, and there is nothing that they could possibly say that could convince me to say this is right for our town of Morgan,” Nelson Kispert said.

NextEra Energy Resources is the developer behind the renewable project, and a representative stated during a discussion held at the auditorium of Oconto Falls High School, that the company has already purchased leasing agreements for 1200 acres of land to place solar panels.

Nonetheless, Thomas Von Bische of NextEra told the audience the company is far from a groundbreaking.

“I’ve only shown you a boundary and I’ve only had two of you in this audience tell me where you live,” Von Bische said. “I was pleased to get that message actually because I can look at a map. I can look at the situation.”

An application has yet to be submitted to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission who would determine if the project meets regulatory approval. According to Von Bische, NextEra doesn’t expect to do that until March of 2023.

Rep. Jeff Mursau, R-Crivitz, emceed Wednesday’s town hall.

After an hour long presentation where two groups spoke in favor of the solar development, residents criticized NextEra’s proposal. They began speaking over some of the panelists, especially Von Bische.

“People that want the solar farm would never come to this room,” Von Bische said at one point while trying to answer questions from the audience. “They would never come into this room, this would be a difficult place to come.”

According to NextEra, one of the reasons Morgan was chosen is because of its proximity to a substation. The company added that there will not be pollution as a result of producing solar energy.

Here’s a link to read NextEra’s full proposal: http://www.townofmorgan.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Nextera-Energy-presentation-7-12-2021.pdf

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