Problems with Solar Panels / Solar Power as Big Industry
Posted On October 7, 2018
There’s a conflict brewing between clean water and solar power. In some cases it involves forests, too.
Massachusetts, for instance, has gone all in on solar power. In an effort to support a transition away from fossil fuels, the Commonwealth created a rule allowing solar to be placed on land designated for agricultural use. This has been a boon to farmers who can earn more money turning a field from food cultivation to energy production. (That, in itself, is a sign of sickness.)
There are problems, however, as opportunists pounce on large tracts of forested land to clear for vast arrays of solar panels, pitching these projects to towns lacking previously thought-through zoning bylaws. Residents of Orange, for instance, are suffering due to their back-to-back approval of two industrial solar facilities. Major flooding from recent heavy rain is directly attributable to that loss of forest habitat.
The natural relationships among trees, soil and water are a form of infrastructure that our society needs to re-value. While we do need to end the use of fossil fuels, we also need to transform our relationship to the essential systems of the planet that maintain life. Solar power is a partial solution, but if it is being pursued with the same attitude of disregard for the environment then solar development is just another manifestation of the same old colonialist rape and pillage model of capitalism.
“When torrential rain caused damage to the West Orange Cemetery and flooded West Orange Road (Route 2A), the actual cause for the damage was obvious to area residents. The culprit was a recently cleared tract of dozens of acres of pristine forest being developed by logger Fred Heyes, with town boards having ignored the pleas of residents to take steps to deal with potential water runoff, wildlife devastation and other issues.”
Some towns have instituted strict zoning bylaws which allow a better degree of control over what gets built in your town and how well the construction and operation of approved projects protects the environment. For instance, Ashfield MA went through a public planning process to develop and vote in strong protections so that they are protected from the worst excesses of developers whose motivation is profit not community wellbeing.
Belchertown MA is currently trying to strengthen its bylaws in the face of an environmentally irresponsible proposal from W.D. Cowls Inc, Blue Wave Solar and Meridian Associates. Find out what your town’s zoning bylaws are regarding solar development, as well as how permits for allowing wastewater to be discharged into rivers are handled.
Get involved! Protecting our water happens from the ground up.
Towns with permits allowing solar facilities to dump waste into local rivers, brooks and streams.