We told you in April that a new solar farm would be coming to Linn County. The new farm, set to be located in Palo around the old Duane Arnold Energy Center, is now causing some concern for area residents.

Iowa's News Now reports that a company named NextEra is looking to use the land around the closed Duane Arnold Energy Center for a 3,500-acre solar energy farm. Benefits of the farm include electricity that would service thousands of homes, provide around 300 construction jobs, and Linn County would get about $40 million in tax revenue. Plus, according to a NextEra representative, "solar energy works to help reduce greenhouse gases and is completely emissions-free." Sounds good, right? Well, not to everyone.

The big cities impacted include Center Point, Palo, and Toddville where some residents don't feel they are being heard or provided with enough information about the project. Iowa's News Now reports that NextEra "filed a waiver to dismiss the public informational meeting due to COVID-19 restrictions." The waiver was approved and a virtual public hearing was held, but residents didn't get the chance to speak.

Residents are concerned not only about the environmental impacts of the solar farm but about their property values as well. Iowa's News Now reports that Palo homeowner Joe Kerner could potentially have solar panels on three sides of his property. That would be concerning for anyone, especially if they are looking to sell their home in the future.

Another resident with concerns is Sara Alden from Center Point. Iowa's News Now states that Alden has been speaking out to get resident voices heard and has created a petition "advocating for the proper placement of these industrial-scale solar sites" stating that they "don't belong in residential, agricultural areas."

The project is still in the early planning stages, so the building wouldn't begin until later this year with the farm up and running in 2023. NextEra representative Bryan Garner says that the company is "talking to land owners to see who might want to partner and lease their land to NextEra to host parts of the project." This would need to happen for the project to reach that 3,500 acre threshold. Anyone who leases their land will receive compensation for doing so. Garner says they are getting a good response.

Iowa's News Now reports that NextEra says "they are working to make residents aware of the project" and that residents who have not yet received the plan in the mail will get it in the coming weeks. As of now, any residents that have questions or concerns are encouraged to contact NextEra through their Facebook page or website.

A public meeting will be held for residents to voice their concerns, once NextEra files an application with Linn County. What do you think about the new farm? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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