POTTER COUNTY — Plans for a solar farm in Hebron Township were discussed during Tuesday afternoon’s Potter County Planning Commission meeting.

Walden Green Energy have plans to develop a solar farm on West Hebron Road, Will Hunt, county planning/GIS director, said. The initial plans were previously brought to the planning commission and approved. The farm will be between 150-180 acres with roughly 60,000 solar panels.

Hunt said he has seen several inquiries for solar farm development and expects to see more coming within the next year.

Planning commission member Michael Thierfelder said solar would have a bigger impact on the land than a wind farm, as solar panels take up more room and many acres of trees have to be removed. He also said there would be more impacts of erosion, water and water flow. Hunt said the solar farm would be smaller than others in surrounding areas and those concerns aren’t as significant as they would be if the size of the farm was larger.

A portion of the development will occur on farmland, Hunt said, noting that less tree removal will be needed. Thierfelder said putting solar in the farm field might reduce erosion and have less tillage and less annual disturbance to the soil.

Livestock are allowed to be in the vicinity of the solar panels, Hunt said. That would be a smart thing, Thierfelder said, because if the conditions were right, the livestock could graze there and mowing wouldn’t be an issue. At the lowest point, the panels will be ten feet from the ground, so livestock could walk right under them. Hunt said he didn’t know if the farm would continue to operate once the solar farm is developed.

The panels will be on a double axis and will face the south and rotate from east to west. There will not be a maintenance operation building or staff on the property unless there are issues, in which they’ll come from other locations, Hunt said. The location is close to a substation, so the power can go directly into the grid.

Also during the meeting, Hunt announced he and the Potter County Commissioners will start a tourism/recreation working group. The work group will complement Visit Potter-Tioga’s efforts in Potter County. The hope is to represent tourism opportunities in Potter County and more effectively work with VPT to market them.

The planning commission unanimously voted Rance Baxter as chair, Curt Weinhold as vice chair and Katie Sasala as secretary/treasurer. Other members on the commission are Bob Wicker, Helen Turner, Joe Ayers and Michael Thierfelder. The commission will continue to meet at 3 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month. Meetings will be held virtually for now; information can be found at www.pottercountypa.net.

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