Are massive solar farms the answer to our renewable energy prayers, and do we want them in our backyards?
Well, here I am the other day reading about the death of former President George H.W. Bush and the article right below it was about a company, S Power, wanting to build one of the largest solar farms in the country, and in my county of residence just a few miles away. I mentioned it to my wife who replied yes, people have already been writing in about it, the kind of not in my backyard letters to the editor.
I had a couple of quick thoughts. One, our county leaders rarely get anything right, so them taking on something of this magnitude scared me. Two, I generally take the stand that if I wouldn’t want something built in my neighborhood, then I really don’t think its right for me to want someone else to have to deal with it.
I tried contacting our local newspaper, but they have their hands full correcting their constant spelling errors and couldn’t bother to reply, so I contacted my county’s planning office a few times and also received no reply.
I also tried contacting the “wonderful for our county” solar farm company, and again I received no reply. So I finally reached out to my member of the Board of Supervisors who did quickly reply and sent me a 60-plus page report about the proposed project.
I spent time reading this and doing all the research I could including finding out about solar flux which is the phenomenon of the solar panels generating a heat source above the farm that can incinerate passing birds. They apparently get the panels confused as a water source. The bottom line after my reading was that I’m not yet sure about solar farms. I am not a scientist or regulator.
What I do know is that Three Mile Island was supposed to be safe, and there was something about a Love Canal I seem to remember, so who can we really trust to tell us what is safe? In our state of Virginia alone there are two current examples of “regulated” “beneficial” and “safe” projects that are turning into local environmental disasters, the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Fones Cliffs.
So yes, I always try to be a team player, so to speak, but when it comes to a permanent change to where I call home, and one with unknown risks, then I don’t think it’s too much to ask for some real benefits to offset the change and the risk. The Company touts that residents’ electric bills won’t change but why wouldn’t they decrease? Why live next to thousands of acres and millions of solar panels without any benefit to our electric bills?
They also boast that they already have a big contract to sell power to Microsoft. So, the intruder company gets richer, one of the wealthiest companies in the world benefits, and the average resident is supposed to applaud. Can we at least get a free Windows Surface Tablet or something?