Help us protect agricultural-forestry zoned land from large, industrial-scale solar developments
10 reasons industrial-scale solar isn't right for agricultural-rural areas
1. Industrial-scale solar power plants should not be placed on land already zoned for A-1 (agricultural) and RA (rural area) use.
The local planning commission and boards of supervisors should vote to reject industrial-scale solar power plants based on this reason alone.
2. The land (forest, farmland, vegetation, soil) is forever destroyed.
Despite current discussions regarding decommissioning, the reality is that this rural land will be lost forever. Industrial-scale solar projects are typically for 30-40 years.
Construction of an industrial-scale solar power plant requires removal of trees, brush and root balls prior to installation of the arrays, creating an ecological wasteland. Grading, pile driving, blasting, electric cable trenching and road construction will compact the soil, likely delaying agricultural use for years after the project’s end.
Stripping and compaction removes topsoil, destroys healthy soil organisms and allows for invasion of exotic plants that choke out native species.
3. Solar projects should not be placed near wetlands, rivers, streams, tributaries to avoid immediate damage to water quality, and possible contamination-ecological disasters.
Uncontrolled runoff of water and topsoil is a well-documented byproduct of industrial-scale solar site development. This massive increase in watershed sedimentation impacts all downstream rivers and estuaries. Water contamination doesn’t stop with the end of construction. Removal of all trees and deep-rooted plants, along with inadequate stormwater controls lead to long-term runoff and water contamination issues. Local municipalities usually do not have adequate resources to monitor construction and stormwater violations and, even when properly monitored, site developers have no problem paying fines, and there is no effective check on environmental damage.
4. Solar power plants destroy wildlife habitat.
Perimeter fencing, often 6-feet high and topped with barbed wire, will restrict movement of wildlife in the area. Removal of vegetation will impact bird population and other wildlife.
5. Solar power plants threaten preservation and should not destroy historic sites.
Many rural areas are the last undeveloped sites that contain prehistoric and historic archaeological deposits. Industrial development of these sites results in the irreversible loss of our history. In the Virginia Piedmont, this includes evidence of Native American settlements, early American settlement, Revolutionary and Civil War encampments and battlefields. Industrial development of these sites results in the irreversible loss of our history
6. A decline in eco and historical tourism.
Destruction of rural landscapes and areas of historic interest result in the decline in eco and historical-tourism (or may prevent the development of these industries), reducing the prosperity of the local community.
7. Solar power generation is very inefficient when looking at the amount of land “consumed.”
Solar power’s inefficiency argues for proper siting on brownfields, industrial areas, and commercial and residential rooftops - not on open or forested, agricultural and rural land.
8. Undermining of local residents' property values.
Based on recent studies, the expected reduction in property value ranged from 5-25% depending on proximity.
9. The bill for decommissioning projects will likely be passed on to taxpayers.
Insufficient surety fund by the developer could result in county responsibility for decommissioning costs. Net Decommissioning costs can range from $43,584/MW to $101,915/MW. No plan and cost should ever be approved without a full understanding of the cost to return the land to its original condition, and the county should not be responsible for this cost.
10. When the local community has clearly expressed concern and opposition.
Local planning commissions and boards of supervisors should vote to reject industrial-scale solar power plants when people in the community oppose it. With time, greater awareness of solar issues and accountability will take place.