Problems with Solar Panels / Solar Power as Big Industry

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.

From the Greenfield Recorder, “Cemetery requires cleanup following storms, flooding” by Carson McGrath, August 9, 2018.

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.”

~ Allen Young, Inside/Outside, Athol Daily News, September 5, 2018

Using rivers as trashcans and garbage disposals

Meanwhile, solar developments are also being granted permits to dump their waste water into rivers in the Commonwealth. As of September 2018, the forty-one (41) solar projects  that “have been issued permits to discharge waste water into rivers” are listed by town below.

What can you do?

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.

  • Athol
    • 328 Partridgeville Road Solar
  •  Amherst
    • Montague Road Solar
    • Pulpit Hill Solar, North Amherst
  • Boxborough
    • Littleton Solar Center
  • Bridgewater
    • West Bridgewater Solar Development Project
  • Carver
    • 42 Fuller St Solar Project & 19C Ward St Solar
  • Dartmouth
    • Northbridge Companies Solar PV Array
  • Freetown
    • Washburn Solar One
  • Gardner
    • Gardner Otter River Road Solar
    • West Street Solar
  • Greenfield
    • Eversource
  • Hinsdale
    • Eversource
  • Ipswich
    • New England BioLabs Solar Development
  • Leicester
    • Proposed PV Solar Project
  • Mattapoisett
    • Crystal Spring Road Solar
    • Tinkham Hill Road Solar Array Phase 2
  • Middleton Solar
  • Millbury
    • Riverlin Street Solar Panel Array Project
  • Millis
    • Millis E Community Solar Array (2)
  • Montague
    • Sandy Lane Solar Facility
  • New Braintree
    • Ravine Road Solar (2)
    •  Miller Solar Array
  • North Andover Solar
  • North Blandfield Road Solar Array Panel Project
  • Pittsfield
    • New Solar Array on East Street
  • Plainfield Solar
  • Orange
    • Orange Solar Array
    • Solar Voltaic Ground System
  • Rochester
    • Community Solar Facility
  • Rutland Solar
  • Savoy
    •  Eversource
  • Southampton
    • Eversource
  • Southwick
    • Goose Pond Solar
  • Sturbridge
    • One Hare Road Solar Array
  • Wareham
  • Westfield
    • Solar Facility being proposed at 0 Southampton Road
  • Wendell
    • Solar Array Development
  • Westport
    • BWC Hamilton Brook-Blossom Road B Solar
  • Winchendon
    • West Street 1
    • West Street 2 Solar
    • 38 Happy Hollow Road Solar
  • Uxbridge
    • Solar Electric Generating Facility, Uxbridge


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