“Facts Over Fear” on Solar Energy

February 19, 2022

Below, some audience response to my recent “Sun101” presentation in Monroe County, MI.

I’m working to push back on the most recent iteration of climate denial, which is “solutions denial” – which Mike Mann ably describes in his recent book “The New Climate War”.
Above, example of the kind of expert answers I brought to answer a common question –
Do Solar farms contaminate soil?

Monroe News (Michigan):

On Dec. 10, we had the opportunity to attend the “Sun 101” presentation in Erie hosted by Michigan videographer Peter Sinclair. The presentation included a refreshing mix of news stories, interviews with local solar energy experts from Michigan, and real-world examples of how solar energy is benefiting communities across the state today through increased tax revenue, environmental benefits and by creating jobs.

At a time when it is sometimes hard to tell someone’s opinion from fact and “doing your research” often means looking up information online that confirms your existing bias, it was great to see a presenter that didn’t ask you to just take his word for it. Sinclair backed up his position with testimony from reputable sources from respected institutions like the University of Michigan, Michigan State and Michigan Tech.

As Monroe County farmers who support bringing solar energy to our community, it has been frustrating to hear so much misinformation in the community about farmers who plan to host solar on their property. Myths about how projects are constructed, where panels are made and whether they are recyclable are spread regularly on social media. Sinclair’s presentation addressed many of these myths head-on, including inviting employees of the largest U.S.-based solar panel manufacturer, First Solar, to talk about how they are making panels in America less than 20 miles away from Monroe County at their factory in Perrysburg, Ohio. They have also been recycling solar modules since 2005, counter to some of the claims you see so often online.

Solar energy represents a huge opportunity for our community in Milan Township and for all of Monroe County. Our local businesses will benefit from the construction process, small farming families like ours will be more secure thanks to guaranteed income from land rent payments, and everyone in the community will benefit from the millions of dollars in property taxes that these projects pay. That money can go toward paving our roads, improving our water infrastructure, funding emergency services and supporting our schools. It could even help lower taxes for the rest of us because solar projects help pay off school bonds — reducing the share for the rest of us.

For our community in Milan Township, and for communities all across Monroe County, I hope our township officials embrace that opportunity and take advantage of all the benefits solar has to offer, rather than bow to those who are driven by fear, not facts, and want to stand in the way of progress.

Leonard and Clara Ostrander are owners of two Centennial Farms in Milan Township and Azalia and whose families have farmed ground in Milan and London Townships for over 150 years.

Below, at one point in my presentation, I make a comparison between a video recording done at the University of Illinois Solar Farm in Champaigne, Ill, vs a purported recording of the “inverter noise” that neighbors of a solar farm are told to expect by anti clean-energy activists.

In this case, at a meeting of the Blissfield Township, Michigan, Planning Commission, in September 2021, by Kevon Martis, a self-described “Senior Fellow” of E&E Legal, a fossil funded, Washington DC lobbying firm well known to scientists and energy experts.

Here, experts address “Are Solar Farms toxic?”


8 Responses to ““Facts Over Fear” on Solar Energy”

  1. Here’s a concept I’d like people’s thoughts on:

    Solar panels on top of fields with crops or even livestock underneath. Call me a cynic, but this is an experiment which is being done next to a huge RWE lignite mine as part of what looks like greenwashing to me:

    Here’s a blog I wrote on this yesterday:

    What’s wrong with cows under a PV roof?

    All the links are in German, sorry about that. My cynicism is based on the concept of covering over productive fields with panels, plus the idea of keeping livestock as a viable source of food underneath.

    Is this greenwashing, or are we going to see the dual use of agriculture and power production anytime soon? I figure we have more than enough space for PV elsewhere.

    Your thoughts appreciated folks.

    • gmrmt Says:

      From experiments like this that have been done elsewhere you can still get over 85% of the normal agricultural productivity out land with elevated and spaced EV panels. Sometimes more due to crops and animals being shaded in the hottest part of summer. The farmer would gain a leasing fee that would far outweigh the value of lost production. The ammount of farmland that would actually be used this way in a community would be relatively small.
      Now as to an industry being able to take peoples homes for them because the government believes that industrial use is more valuable to the state than people having a right to their own homes that’s not a new problem either. There was some town in New England that did this to a neighbourhood because the tax income from the privately owned luxury condos that would replace it would be higher than what the town was receiving already. This was challenged all the way to the US supreme court and the challenge was defeated. I understand it didn’t go through because the town council was told in no uncertain terms that they could forget about re-election and could look forward to a priah status in their community.

  2. Thomas Porter Says:

    Way to go Peter! Well done!

    Tom Porter The Porter Family Foundation tporter@umich.edu theporterfamilyfoundation.org

    On Sat, Feb 19, 2022 at 7:21 PM Climate Denial Crock of the Week wrote:

    > greenman3610 posted: ” https://youtu.be/2n_2tYVlOOg Below, some audience > response to my recent “Sun101” presentation in Monroe County, MI. I’m > working to push back on the most recent iteration of climate denial, which > is “solutions denial” – which Mike Mann ably descr” >

    • Kevon Martis Says:

      What Peter has left out is that he is funded by APEX Clean Energy and the article he quotes here is from an APEX solar leaseholder. He also ignores the fact that people walked out on his talk because it was irrelevant and more than a little creepy. Peter has no zoning credentials of any kind. The township officials that listened to him speak thought the talk was an utter waste of time. 80% of those attending strongly disagree with nearly everything Peter said. But Peter doesn’t want you to know that because he is desperately trying to be relevant in a space that doesn’t want him: rural land use and zoning.

  3. Bill Nussey’s new book Freeing Energy has chapters on solutions and public opinion. He argues for distributed energy, i.e. rooftop solar and micrograms, and shows the many benefits. Also a great podcast, see freeingenergy.com

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