Ros Vrba

Ros “Rocco” Vrba of Sheridan Solar LLC spoke before the Sheridan County planning and Zoning Commission on Jan. 7.

Shannon Anderson, the lone concerned citizen in favor of the solar farm, asserted that it would lower utility bills. Upon further questioning, Mr. Ros Vrba of Sheridan Solar LLC admitted lower energy bills happen only if Montana Dakota-Utilities lowers its profit margin. Solar energy does not yet compete with efficient fossil fuel. It requires subsidies from the federal government or carbon taxation.

The only positive reason I heard for this development was when Mr. Vrba noted that "perhaps" on sunny days we would have fewer power interruptions. However, I have noticed that power outages usually occur during "not sunny" weather.

Sheridan has a reliable energy infrastructure. The liabilities of our existing system are factored into our rates. Recently an international insurance company concluded that solar farm liabilities are too risky to insure. Weather is only one factor. A single hailstorm can destroy an entire farm (as well as flood and fire, etc).

Wyominites cherish private property rights but we assume that freedom is always tied to responsibility. Property owners are asked to not infringe on their neighbors' right to enjoy their own property. Our wonderful community is concerned with view sheds, historic water rights, clean water, aquifers, public access, right of way, night sky light pollution, fencing with razor wire, future (walking, bicycle and horse) trail plans, grazing, agriculture, environmental health concerns, eyes sores, clean up, property value and unintended consequences.

It is not fair play to ignore these concerns, and more, by generating a 300-page packet to hide behind and then use a rushed legal checklist from the state Legislature to determine this project is "in compliance." Most citizens have had less than a month to digest what it means. Usually power generation plants take years to study. This is inappropriate technology for our community and belongs in metropolitan areas.

Again: why this and why now?

Beth Thurow


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