Letter to Editor: Everybody Wins with Solar

September 2, 2022

Photo by Deb Nystrom

The road to clean energy goes thru America’s small towns and rural communities.
Fossil fuel interests have found it in their interest to use social media to spread toxic misinformation and myths about clean energy. Citizens like Paul Wohlfarth of Riga Township, in Southeast Michigan, are pushing back successfully against the tide of nonsense.

Paul Wohlfarth in the Adrian (Michigan) Telegram (paywall):

Our newspapers are filled daily with climate change weather disasters seldom seen decades ago. Here in southeast Michigan we’ve been spared most of these disastrous events.

We do experience greater numbers of extreme precipitation events affecting farmers and flooding communities. Many have an attitude that if it doesn’t affect me, it’s not my problem. Well, the world has realized it is a major problem as heat indexes soar and water sources dry up around the world causing instability .

Recently, our government stepped up its commitment and allocated $375 billion in the Inflation Reduction Act that is mostly aimed at moving away from man-made, climate-changing fossil fuels. Here in southeast Michigan, we are ground zero in a growing green energy economy. The area has the most radiant energy available for solar projects in Michigan and is being viewed as a growth target.

A week ago I was given tax records of a Monroe County solar farm. The records show that previously, when it was a 100-acre hay farm, it produced $4,498 in taxes to the community. Now, as a solar farm, it’s paying out $296,771 annually. Let that sink in for a minute: $4,498 as a hay farm to $296,771 as a new solar farm. Wow! That’s the promise of this new business opportunity developing in our area.

The problem we face is we have a network of groups hell-bent on stopping this new business opportunity. They network across the country sharing slick misinformation and travel from township to township pestering local officials with their outrageous claims. Their backers spend money on yard signs and postcards to sway the residents of these communities.

The fact is, solar farms are not destroying farmland; urban sprawl is. Urban sprawl never is a win-win for a community. It always raises taxes with new needs for ever increasing schools, crime-fighting police and exponential infrastructure needs. There are few benefits from this real estate boom, while most are taxed to death and, in the farmers’ case, sell out ending their farm’s legacy. Solar farms do not destroy farmland, can still be farmed in many cases and is still ruled as Public Act 116 eligible. The solar facility doesn’t use or need community infrastructure but does pay huge tax increases from its original use, which can lower all taxes in the community.

Solar farms are a stop-gap to the sprawling development eating up our farms across the country. They lock the farmland for 30 years, saving it from total destruction and sparing neighbors of noisy traffic congested sprawl. They do not pollute as opposed to industrial farming that is reliant on pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. In some cases, biosolids applied to fields have increasingly poisoned many farms with heavy metals and PFAS unknown to neighbors or farmers themselves. This all ends up in our lakes and streams, but we can reduce the problem.

So don’t buy the organized naysayers who have an agenda that isn’t good for communities you live in. It’s a new day in southeast Michigan!

Paul Wohlfarth lives in Riga Township, MI


3 Responses to “Letter to Editor: Everybody Wins with Solar”

  1. The only winners are politically connected land owners. Everyone else gets more expensive, less reliable electricity. Where do you think that increased revenue comes from?

    • gmrmt Says:

      How is it more expensive? How is it less reliable? That could only happen if the pre-existing power infrastructure somehow went away. How on Earth would that happen?

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      The point of the letter is that solar farms provide more tax revenue for a community without increasing the budget demands, so that everybody in the community benefits.

      How in the world does adding solar farms make electricity more expensive or unreliable? [Back in the 1980s, I lived in Hudson township in Massachusetts, where we paid more per kWh than surrounding townships because our town that had investment obligations on an extremely expensive nuclear power plant.]

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