Orion Renewable Energy Group LLC of Oakland, California is in the process of developing an industrial-scale solar farm in Goodland Township. As of this writing, they have not officially filed the necessary applications to proceed with development, to my knowledge. They have apparently signed multiple leases with property owners to the tune of at least 2,800 acres according to a November 2020 story in the Tri-City Times. That number of acres is equal to 4.375 square miles! They tout the “benefits” they “wish” to bring to the community and all the tax dollars they will pay to support the community.

If an industrial-scale solar farm is so good for the community, why has Orion used stealth tactics to work their way into the township? If a company is truly doing something beneficial for a community, they would be proud to advertise it far and wide. Yet nothing of this solar farm became widely known until the article in the Tri-City Times noted above. Even in the last year there has been minimal information available. On October 27, the company is finally holding informational meetings for small groups, up to 12 people at a time for one hour at a time. Over the course of the day, a maximum of 96 people will get to hear what the company has to say.

I have two comments. First of all, on their website, GoodlandSolarProject.com, Orion indicates this is to be a 100 megawatt solar farm. The solar industry indicates that, on average, it takes about five acres to generate one megawatt. Therefore a 100 megawatt solar farm should require roughly 500 acres. Why on earth would they need to lease 2,800 acres and possibly more? Do they have a stealth plan for a “phase 2”?

Second, for all the investment Orion says they will make and for all the “benefits” they claim they will provide to the community, this is simply their cost of doing business. They have only one goal, and that is to profit as handsomely as they can. In our economic system, that is what every business should strive for. But they will do so by destroying the nature of the eastern half of the township, after which they will exit. Those of us who remain will be stuck living in the middle of a giant industrial park forced upon us which is a significant detriment, not a benefit.

—Todd W. Townley,
Goodland Twp.