“Glen Canyon Solar Project is delayed due to regional grid/transmission constraints. AES is actively maintaining the safety of the project site, and is maintaining compliance with local agencies,” says the official statement from AES Energy, the developer of the now-halted solar plant project in the area of Big Water and Church Wells. “...because Kane County rocks,” adds Carter Livingston, Stakeholder Relations for AES and coordinator of the project. Says Livingston, “We have such a great appreciation for the leaders in Big Water, Church Wells and Kane County as a whole - we look forward to the project making progress and moving forward.”
AES is confident that the project will eventually begin to move forward again, despite the current on hold status. AES’ representatives forewent the opportunity to clarify why equipment had been removed from the site or to give a timeline on the project going forward - they have consented to a more in-depth interview with the Southern Utah News in coming days, and so only gave preliminary statements at this time.
Sources local to the county and outside of AES gave some context to the issue as it progresses. One source close to the project speculated that Rocky Mountain Power, who has the infrastructure capacity to purchase and transmit any potential power generated by the project, was required to withdraw from an agreement with AES due to recent financial and litigious complications, though this is yet to be confirmed - AES representatives acknowledge the existence of this theory as rumor, but would not confirm or deny its veracity.
As the official line from Kane County, Commissioner Celeste Meyeres says of the project, “Kane County is not financially investing or contributing significantly to this project, that’s not the county’s role. We’re in a holding pattern on it right now - our priority is protecting the taxpayers so they’re not being billed.” Due to the nature of the infrastructure agreement between Kane County and AES, along with the leadership of Church Wells and Big Water, Kane County has not yet had to dedicate any funds to the project beyond those necessary to keep in communication with the project. Agreements instituted for the solar farm like its RDA, CRA and TIF have no initial tax impact until the project is producing revenue by design - the conditions of these agreements also include promises from AES to contribute to local infrastructure and farmland reclamation after construction concludes. As mentioned before, AES is confident that they can still meet the conditions of these agreements, and per their brief initial statement preceding a more in-depth interview, AES claims the goodwill granted to them by the people of the county, Big Water and Church Wells will not be in vain.
In the meantime, as the project continues to hold, the site continues under AES’ security. As a consequence of the site’s clearing, erosion prevention and visibility measures continue to be required, until either the project resumes or natural erosion barriers like local flora return. AES did not give an estimated timeline for when the project would resume.
Further information should be available in an upcoming issue of the Southern Utah News, once AES’ promise of an in-depth interview with their public relations team resolves.