Solar panel farm proposed in Brooks County

By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
June 18, 2019

BROOKS COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- A new solar panel facility is in the works in Brooks County, and it's bringing controversy among nearby landowners.

On Tuesday the Brooks County Planning Commission is holding a public hearing regarding a proposal to build solar panels on the Miami Plantation outside of Quitman. The commission is considering granting a 'Special Exception' permit to the applicant, NextEra Energy Resources.

The plantation covers about 1700 acres. Nearby property owners are hoping to stop the proposal because they want to see it continue as a rich environment, home to diverse wildlife.

Louis Lee owns property across the street from the plantation. He said the area has been maintained as a wildlife and hunting preserve for more than half a century, and he doesn't want to see that go away.

"It has abundant wildlife on it, deer, turkey, quail, it had rare species of plants and animals. They can't be replaced," Lee said. "We know solar power may become a good source of alternative energy, but this track of land, we cannot see the reasoning behind sacrificing it when there are other places of land that are already cleared, such as cultivated land, fields and pastures."

Lee also said there is concern over loss of property value if the plantation changes shape so drastically.

County zoning officials said the plans call for about 300,000 panels.

The planning commission will hold a public hearing Tuesday, with the Brooks County Board of Commissioners holding a second public hearing on July 1.

In a statement from NextEra Energy Resources:

  • "The Quitman II Solar Energy project will bring significant economic benefits to Brooks County including good paying construction jobs and nearly $9 million in additional tax revenue for Brooks County that can support essential services such as local schools and roads. This project has strong community support and has been sited to minimize environmental impacts while preserving the county’s clean water and air to generate homegrown renewable energy. We look forward to the opportunity to present to the Planning and Zoning board tonight, answer questions and share information about the project."