Utility scale solar energy systems continue to be a frequent conversation for the Goodhue County Board. On Tuesday, May 21, the board was presented with two requests for utility-scale solar energy systems.

Lisa Hanni, the director of land-use management, explained that the county defines a utility scale solar energy system as "an energy system that is the primary use of the land, designed to provide energy primarily to off-site uses or export to the wholesale market."

According to Hanni there have been six utility-scale solar energy system requests in 2019. All of the submitted applications have been approved.

The Planning Advisory Commission reviewed the status for solar energy permits during an April 15 workshop. The commission opened the discussion to the public and, according to a report to the County Board by the land-use department, received comments on both the benefits and challenges of utility solar within the county.

The report stated:

"The Planning Advisory commission felt that current ordinance language regulating solar development in Goodhue County is adequate and they do not recommend any further action at this time."

This conclusion by the commission came after a County Board meeting on March 19 that suggested looking into placing a moratorium on utility solar. Staff recommended in April that they did not see a need to begin a moratorium on solar projects. However, the county waited until after the Planning Commission could hold a workshop on the topic.

The board took no action on Tuesday.