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Langdon Mills Solar FAQ

  • What is the operating life of a solar farm?
    Once operational, a solar farm will typically operate for a 30–35-year lifespan.
  • Are solar panels toxic?
    No. Langdon Mills Solar will utilize monocrystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, which account for over 90% of solar PV panels installed today. These panels use a crystalline lattice of silicon atoms to convert sunlight into electricity. Silicon is the second-most abundant material on Earth (after oxygen) and the most common semiconductor material used in computer chips. It is nontoxic and does not pose a risk to public health or safety. When a project is decommissioned, panels can be recycled as well as be disposed in landfills designated for this type of material.
  • Are solar panels noisy?
    No, solar panels themselves are completely silent. Certain pieces of equipment on a solar farm, which include invertors, transformers, and motors, do emit a small amount of sound during the day from sunrise to sunset. Transportation and maintenance equipment – including cars, trucks, lawnmowers and string trimmers – are also a common source of noise on solar farms that most people are used to hearing elsewhere. The impact of this sound is negligible because the equipment is strategically placed within the solar layout and is typically distant from the property lines. A noise study will be conducted to ensure that the project operates within applicable noise limits.
  • What is the decibel level of the electrical equipment at the fence surrounding the solar plant?
    Noise producing equipment at a solar facility is limited to inverters, transformers, motors, and (if utilized) batteries. The Project will be designed to the extent practicable with the sound producing equipment placed at a distance from Project borders.
  • Are the solar panels cleaned? 
    Solar panels are typically cleaned naturally through rainfall or snow melting from the face of the panels. O&M crew members will ensure panels are properly cleaned for efficiency and energy production purposes.
  • What is solar panel glare? 
    Solar panels are designed to ensure minimal reflection as any reflected light is lost energy; therefore, the panels are designed with anti-reflective coating to absorb the maximum amount of light. However, solar panel glare occasionally occurs when an observer sees a direct reflection of the sun caused by a reflection from the surface of a solar panel. As part of its permitting process, Langdon Mills Solar will conduct a Glare Analysis of the project site that will allow project designers to minimize or eliminate solar panel glare on the surrounding residents, businesses, and transportation. Further, the project will utilize single axis trackers, which allow the panels to track the sun as it moves across the sky and keep the panels at a right angle to the sun, minimizing the potential for glare. In the unlikely event that unreasonable glare is identified, specific modifications to design and/or operation of the panels will be implemented to address the issue.
  • Do panels impact TV reception? 
    No. Solar energy facilities do not cause impacts/disruptions to over-the-air (OTA) digital TV reception.
  • How are aircraft impacted by the addition of solar within this area?
    The project must adhere to all Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines and will properly site the project with regard to the specific requirements of the FAA. Emergency medical helicopters will continue to adhere to their own aircraft landing protocol.
  • What is the fire risk of a solar project such as this?
    The risk of fire in a large-scale solar project is incredibly low. The project contains sensors that are capable of detecting a fire that could be occurring in a specific section of the array. These sensors will immediately notify Operation and Maintenance team members, who then can power off the array. The solar energy facility and its equipment will be operated and monitored to ensure proper safety of the equipment. The Langdon Mills Solar Project will have a safety and security plan that details fire protection and related education for local first responders. The project will work with local fire and EMS departments to ensure their thorough understanding of the project’s low fire risk and proper response actions.
  • What chemicals would be required to put out the fire? 
    The Project will not require the use of any unusual or atypical fire suppressants in the unlikely event of a fire.
  • Are there any studies on how living near a solar panel fields can impact some ones mental state?
    Langdon Mills Solar is unaware of any peer-reviewed studies proving any adverse health effects to neighbors of solar farms. The state’s process for permitting also ensures that the Project is safely sited to mitigate any adverse impact to the health of humans.
  • Who is developing the project? 
    Samsung C&T America is the developer of the proposed Langdon Mills Solar Project. Since 2009, Samsung has developed and constructed a total of 1.39 gigawatts (GW) of utility scale wind and solar projects which are all under operation in Ontario, Canada. Samsung is currently developing approximately 10GW of utility scale solar project across US, including several Midwestern States- Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana and Wisconsin. Samsung is committed to developing reliable, high-quality projects which respecting the environment and balancing the best interests of the community, landowners, and partners.
  • Where will the power generated from the project go?
    The power from Langdon Mills Solar will be delivered into the local Wisconsin electric grid, helping to diversify the state’s energy portfolio. Power generated by the project will be used both locally and transmitted to where it is needed based on demand.
  • Will the project impact the landscape of our community?
    Langdon Mills Solar intends to responsibly site a large solar project in Columbia County, WI. For the project to be built, it must apply for and received a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW). The PSCW will review the project to ensure it is being sited properly and otherwise complies with all applicable state requirements. The PSCW and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) will review the environmental impacts (wildlife, wetlands, waterways, etc.) to surrounding neighbors, roads, and the community and will otherwise conduct an in-depth review of the design of this project. Prior to approving the CPCN application, the PSCW will ensure that the project will not significantly impact the environment or surrounding areas. The project must receive the proper permits prior to the start of any construction efforts. The project will utilize appropriate setbacks, native vegetation ground cover, wildlife fencing (versus chain-link fencing), and adhere to other guidelines required by the state of Wisconsin to minimize overall landscape impact.
  • Who conducts the studies for Langdon Mills Solar?
    Samsung has contracted with TRC Environmental to conduct and analyze wildlife habitat studies, wetland and waterway delineations, and natural and cultural resources studies for the Langdon Mills Solar Project.
  • Will inclement weather damage the panels?
    Panels are capable of withstanding harsh weather elements such as hail, torrential rain, and strong winds. Studies, as well as actual catastrophic events such as hurricanes , have shown that solar farms are able to withstand the harsh weather elements, including the cold, snowy weather of Wisconsin.
  • What happens when it is cloudy outside?
    Even on a cloudy day, solar panels produce between 10% and 25% of their typical output. Advanced tracking systems also enable solar panels to follow the sun throughout the day and maximize the amount of electricity generated.
  • How will snow be removed from the panels?
    With advanced technology and weather tracking systems, solar panels will be able to be tilted during snowy weather so they will not unduly accumulate snow. Once the storm has passed through, the panels can resume tracking the sun as they were prior to the storm. Lighter snow loads allow some sunlight to reach the panels and the small amount of heat generated from energy conversion allows the panels to shed the snow.
  • How is the solar plant taxed?
    In Wisconsin, owners of solar farms greater than 50 megawatts pay annually into a utility aid fund which is shared with the local governments where the solar farm is located. Under the revenue sharing formula currently in place, a qualifying solar farm (such as ours) will contribute $2,833 per megawatt (MW) per year to the county and $2,177 per MW to the township(s) hosting the project, for a total of $5,000 per MW per year.
  • What is the tax revenue impact for the county, towns, and the local school districts?
    The project will work with local municipalities and Columbia County in developing a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) which will provide the community with an assurance that the impacted local units of government and school districts will have a continued source of tax revenue. It is anticipated that the total amount of payments that local government will receive as a result of Langdon Mills Solar’s location in the community will be substantially higher than the tax receipts currently received from participating properties.
  • How are landowners compensated?
    Landowners enter into a voluntary agreement with the developer to allow for the project to be developed, constructed, and operated on their property for a set period of time. Landowners are compensated based on agreed upon terms set out in the voluntary agreement.
  • Are property values impacted by the facility?
    Industry studies show that large-scale solar power facilities economically benefit the community and generally do not decrease residential property resale values following proper design and visual/sound mitigation. The increase in tax revenue generated by the facility typically leads to stronger school funding, levelized taxes, the potential for better roads, stabilized funding for emergency services, and more. Additionally, buyers may view the solar facility as a safe, quiet neighbor.
  • Will the project affect the agricultural economy?
    Although farmers may be taking ground out of row crop agricultural use so that it may be used for the project, they are also receiving additional income from the new land use type. It is common for participating landowners to participate with a portion of their total ground and continue farming other non-participating acres of ground. It is also typical for participating landowners to continue living locally after the solar facility is constructed, spending income locally, to the benefit of the local economy throughout the life of the project. Langdon Mills Solar will be utilizing a vegetative management plan that incorporates pollinator-friendly habitats and deep-rooted native vegetative ground cover throughout the project footprint. The additional pollinator-friendly habitat has the potential to increase nearby pollinator-impacted foliage and crops. The project will make a significant financial investment in the seed purchased for ground cover, as well as the components necessary for planned small animal and bird habitats within the array. Langdon Mills Solar is considering the integration of meaningful agriculture within the solar facility, such as sheep grazing. This provides an additional grazing opportunity for local or regional sheep farmers (and another solar-adjacent product, wool).
  • How will the project impact farmland and local agriculture?
    Solar development and traditional agricultural can coexist side-by-side, and increasingly are found together. Responsible solar development provides benefits to both agriculture and ecosystems by improving soil health, retaining water, nurturing native species, and supporting native pollinators which support local food production. In addition, solar farms help farmers and landowners diversify their income by providing a reliable, drought-resistant revenue stream. This steady income means that farmers are less vulnerable to fluctuations in market prices on their products, uncertain trade regimes, and volatile annual weather, thus helping farmers stay in business. Additionally, at the end of its useful life the project will be decommissioned, and the land will be available for all future potential uses, including traditional agriculture.
  • How will topsoil be impacted?
    In most project areas, when construction commences, there will be some light grading necessary for panels to rest on level ground. When design and construction crews deem it necessary to remove a layer of topsoil they will, whenever feasible, retain it and replace it. The project will be making a very significant investment in native vegetative ground cover seed and will want the best soil beneath the panels for the seeding of this cover. With deep-rooted native vegetation planted underneath the solar panels, the soil will regain nutrients and be restored to a higher quality of soil at the end of the project’s useful life.
  • Will stray voltage be a concern for livestock operations near the project?
    No. Large-scale solar projects must follow strict electrical safety codes governing the design, construction, and operation of any project in Wisconsin. With modern-day underground collection and transmission lines used in the construction of solar farms, stray voltage will not impact neighboring farms. On-site project staff will oversee the day-to-day operations of the solar farm to assure the site continues to follow all applicable codes and regulations. Additionally, Langdon Mills Solar will comply with any stray voltage testing ordered by the PSCW.
  • Once solar panels are removed; can the land be used again for agriculture?
    Yes. The Langdon Mills Solar project will be located on private land under long term lease arrangements and at the end of life of the project, the project will be decommissioned and the land will be available again for farming. This is in stark contrast to other developments, such as commercial or industrial building projects, which often leave land unusable for agriculture again. After panels are installed, native vegetation- often friendly to bees and other pollinators- will be planted. The deep roots of native vegetation retain more water than turf grass during heavy storms and periods of drought. They also help retain topsoil and improve soil health over time.
  • How well do panels perform in a dusty environment (from farming or other operations)? 
    While dust can slightly reduce the performance of the panels, it is a minimal reduction and does not materially affect energy production. Panels are also easy to clean and are cleaned by rain, snow, and occasionally by project staff.
  • What will this do to the wildlife?
    Impacts to local wildlife are expected to be minimal. Project environmental experts have been assessing the project footprint by conducting site-specific studies to understand and mitigate potential impacts on wildlife. The project will comply with all state and federal regulations associated with wildlife including requirements of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR). Small local wildlife will be able to come and go through wildlife friendly fencing, including rabbits and other small mammals as well as turtles and other small reptiles.
  • What aspects of the wildlife do the studies and surveys focus on?
    The focus is on the habitat available to threatened and endangered species. If these habitats exist within the solar Project boundary, it is likely the Project will avoid those areas. Further information regarding impacted wildlife will be included in the CPCN application the Project files with the PSCW.
  • Will the project emit any greenhouse gases? 
    No. Solar panels generate clean, renewable electricity and do not emit any greenhouse gases or other harmful emissions. This distinguishes solar energy from carbon-based electric generation, where carbon dioxide and other air pollutants are emitted as a biproduct of the generation process.
  • How is water run-off and drainage impacted?
    Langdon Mills Solar will file with the PSCW a plan that specifically addresses runoff both during construction and while the project is operating. In addition, the project will plant deep-rooted native vegetation beneath the solar panels and throughout the project footprint. Establishing native vegetation throughout the array will allow the ground to rest and build nutrient-rich soil. The well-rested, nutrient-filled soil will also help with erosion control and water runoff impacts in, near, and around the solar site.
  • What is the track record of solar farms leaching chemicals into the ground?
    PV solar panels are designed and built with solid, non-toxic materials confined between glass and a metal frame. When operated as intended, or in the rare instance when they fail or are damaged, they do not leach chemicals into the ground.
  • Will the project obstruct wildlife patterns within the project area?
    The project will utilize wildlife-friendly fencing which will allow small animals, such as rabbits and reptiles, to go back and forth through the fencing. The project is not being sited on one contiguous square area of fenced ground. Rather, the project will be comprised of several fenced sections of ground connected underground to one another (will be more of a patchwork quilt of sections throughout the total area). Larger animals, such as deer, will be able to traverse through and around the total project area.
  • How will the fish habitat be affected in local streams and waterways? 
    Solar projects, like the one being proposed by Samsung C&T America, are expected to have a positive impact on groundwater quality. As row-crop production is being replaced with a source of clean, renewable energy, project land will see a reduction or elimination in tilled acres (erosion) and application of farm chemicals (pesticides and herbicides), leading to a reduction in phosphorous and nitrogen loading on local waterways. Once the project is operational most of the vegetation will be low-growth, native or indigenous grasses and forbs requiring mowing only a few times a year and only targeted chemical applications if needed at all. With this positive groundwater impact, the habitat downstream for fish and other aquatic species will likely be healthier than before the project was implemented. 
  • What is the impact to hunting and fishing? 
    The project will have no impact to hunting and fishing rights on property that is not part of the project.
  • Are the fumes from burning electronics and solar panels toxic?
    Fumes from the burning of all man-made (and some naturally occurring) materials have the potential to be toxic. In the rare possibility of a fire occurring on-site, the fumes from the burning equipment could be harmful to breathe in, as would any fumes from a substance or material that has caught fire. However, the Project O&M team members and local first responders will take appropriate action to ensure the safety of the community.
  • What is the regulatory process that Langdon Mills Solar must go through to receive approval to build the project?
    Wisconsin has a very thorough, objective process run by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) to review applications for large solar photovoltaic projects. Simultaneously, the WDNR reviews the project to ensure that any necessary impacts to wildlife, water, and the environment are minimized, and that all required environmental permits are sought and issued. The permitting process is similar to a judicial hearing, where evidence is entered into a record, and three impartial commissioners at the PSCW review the application for compliance with all Wisconsin laws. The process typically takes about a year from start to finish. More information on the process – and how to get involved – can be found at the PSCW website, here:
  • What studies are being done to provide the public with information/data about potential impacts from the construction and operation of the project? 
    The project must receive a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) before it can be built. As part of its CPCN application, Langdon Mills Solar will conduct and submit to the PSCW a number of studies that address key safety and regulatory concerns. These will be available to the public through the PSCW website once filed, and include:  Wetland and Waterway Delineation: Identifies the location and extent of wetlands and waterways within the project area.  Glare Analysis: Assesses potential impact from reflected light at different times of the year using project-specific details including panel height, orientation, and angle.  Sound report: Sound analysis conducted to determine a pre-construction ambient sound assessment and to estimate ambient sound levels post-construction.  Threatened and Endangered Species Studies: Evaluation of potential effects of project on federal and state listed threatened and endangered species.  Visual Impact Analysis: A simulation of project visual impacts from key vantage points (i.e.: site renderings that include views of the area before and after construction).  Geotechnical Report: An evaluation of subsurface soils relevant to project construction.  Cultural Resources Report: A review of catalogued archeological sites and historic structures in and near the project area.  Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan: An engineering plan to ensure compliance with state and federal stormwater runoff requirements during construction.  EMF Study: A study to ensure that the project’s estimated electric and magnetic field forces are consistent with industry safety standards.  Road Condition Report: A review of local road conditions to ensure that project construction has no detrimental impact on local roadways.   Decommissioning Plans: A report that provides Langdon Mills Solar’s plan and commitment for equipment decommissioning/deconstructing and site restoration at the end of the project’s useful life.  Additionally, the PSCW and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will conduct an Environmental Assessment as part of their evaluation of the project application.
  • Will the results from the studies be available for viewing?
    The results from all required studies will be included in the CPCN application with the PSCW, which will be accessible to the public by a docket number associated with the Project. The studies will also be shared at the public library, with local government, and on the Project website.
  • How long will this project be under construction?
    The Project is in the early stages of development. Upon grant of a CPCN from the PSCW, the Project would move forward with construction. The construction process typically takes 12-18 months before site operation can occur.
  • What equipment is required for construction?
    The Project has yet to determine what equipment is necessary for the construction of the proposed Langdon Mills Solar Project, though it is anticipated that typical construction equipment found at energy infrastructure projects will be used. Prior to construction, the community will be aware of the activities that will occur on-site and will receive regular communications from a member of the construction team.
  • What is the impact of the project to local roads? 
    The project will survey local roads prior to the start of construction and once construction has been completed. Langdon Mills Solar will maintain and/or improve local roads as required to support any increase in traffic or weight so that upon project completion the roads will be in the same or better condition as prior to construction.
  • What will be done about any damages that occur to roads, ditches, etc.?
    A Road Condition Report will be completed prior to Project construction. The Project will work with the local officials to decide on the best route for construction traffic and will later re-evaluate the roads to determine any necessary roadwork that needs to be completed post-Project construction to ensure that local roads are in as good or better condition than described in the pre-construction Road Condition Report.
  • What happens to solar panels at the end of their life?
    As part of the permitting process, Langdon Mills Solar will provide a detailed decommissioning plan and a commitment to implement the same. At the end of the project’s useful life (30 years on average), panels can be removed and recycled or disposed of in a licensed landfill. Up to 90% of the materials used in panels, much of which is glass, are recyclable.
  • What is typically involved in the decommissioning process of the solar plant?
    As part of Langdon Mills Solar’s lease agreements with landowners, and as required by the PSCW, the Project will be responsible for the removal of all equipment at the end of the Project’s useful life. The removal of equipment and restoration of the host site is referred to as ‘decommissioning’. A Decommissioning Plan will be prepared and submitted with the CPCN application to the PSCW. This plan details the responsibility of the Project to remove equipment and return land to a similar state as was present before the Project was constructed. As part of the Decommissioning Plan, the Project will agree to post a bond or similar financial surety to ensure the funds necessary to decommission are consistently available throughout the life of the Project; this bond provides a financial guarantee that the Project will bear the cost to decommission and that host landowners (with whom the Project has leased ground for this temporary land-use purpose) and/or host communities will not be responsible for any costs. Decommissioning will consist of removing the vast majority of solar equipment which was not present on the land prior to construction and operation. Any remaining equipment will not impact future land uses. The decommissioning bond remains in effect for the life of the Project regardless of any ownership transfer and/or in the highly unlikely circumstance of bankruptcy.
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