ST. JAMES PARISH, La. (WGNO) — St. James residents gathered once again to hear the fate of the proposed solar farm in the Parish. The St. James Parish council decided earlier this month to push back a vote on a moratorium for the project that would halt it from moving forward. Wednesday evening, developers asked the council to keep an open mind.
“Desri really wants to work with you all in crafting the best possible ordinance that will set the rules and guidelines for solar in this parish,” said Tripp Roy, Director of Development for Desri.
Desri, the developers of the solar farm, say the $500 million investment would provide enough power for 60,000 homes, create hundreds of jobs and increase property tax dollars. Several council members have previously argued a solar farm would intrude with future commercial business, but locals say the council needs to prioritize limiting chemical plants in the area.
“See this map right here? Where you have all this industry, petrochemical… if you need a moratorium, that’s what you need it on, petrochemical in this area, Convent and St. James, Louisiana. You do not need a moratorium on an eco friendly business,” said Gail LeBoeuf, a St. James Parish resident.
The Gravois family that owns the land that the solar farm would be built on acknowledges they would benefit from the project, but say the green initiative would also help the whole parish.
“Everybody right now is paying extremely high Entergy bills because the price of natural gas is going up. It will give Entergy another way to stabilize billing,” said Sam Gravois.
For now, the solar farm project is still alive, but there will certainly be more meetings about its guidelines in the coming months.
Now, the council will continue to collect analyze studies about the solar farms to consider any revisions to the ordinance on the project.