Wednesday, December 16, 2015


I will admit that I am a stranger to the selection committee for the Smart People of Science, but I had to stop and scratch my melon when a friend posted a link to this article online.  At first, I thought it was one of those parodies from The Onion or something, but no.  It's legit, although not too legit to quit.

The article, from the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, down North Carolina way, tells of a vote in the town council of Woodland that forbade approval for a solar farm.  The vote was 3-1. The town seems to be afraid that a solar farm will use up all the sunshine, leaving none for them.

My dad had a batty aunt who believed that electricity leaked out of any outlet that did not have something plugged into it.  Really.  She would vacuum underneath such outlets to sweep up all the electrons lying about.

The Strata Solar Company wanted to build a solar farm off U.S. highway 258 down in North Carolina.  Previously, the town had approved three other solar operations in an area that is close to an electrical substation, so the electric power generated by these solar panels can be hooked up to the electrical grid and serve many people.

Remember...they already have three solar farms in operation.  So why turn down the fourth, which would have completed the encircling of the power plant?

Citizen Jean Barnes showed up with a petition that she said represented the views of many citizens who opposed the solar farm.  She did not say why they opposed it, just that they do.

Mary Hobbs opposed the new solar farm because she says the town is "slowly becoming a ghost town" where no young people want to come and work and live and put down roots.  

She did not say how a fourth solar farm would be detrimental to the town's economic development.

Then, Bobby and Jane Mann got up to speak.

Jane Mann said she likes the colorful flora that abounds in her hometown.  All sorts of plants grow there and make the community beautiful, she feels.  

And THEN she said she is a retired science teacher and is concerned that photosynthesis - the process we learned about in 7th grade by which green plants use sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water - would stop happening in Woodland, NC.

Because the solar farm would use up all the available sunshine that falls on Woodland, NC, she said.

Mrs Mann said she has seen areas near solar panels where the plants are brown and dead due to lack of sunlight.  The article did not specify whether anyone asked if those plants might have withered because no one watered them, lack of water being another significant cause of plants getting all brown.

She also pointed to the high number of cancer deaths in the area, saying no one could tell her that solar panels didn’t cause cancer, although she did not say how they could.

“I want to know what’s going to happen,” she said. “I want information. Enough is enough. I don’t see the profit for the town. People come with hidden agendas,” said the woman who once was paid to teach science to young people.

Bobby Mann, whom I take to be her husband, stated that solar farms would suck up all the energy from the sun and businesses would not come to Woodland.

Several Strata company representatives spoke to the locals about solar farms, said there would be plenty of healthy vegetation near the farm, that solar farms are known to be safe, and have not been shown to reduce the value of homes in areas where they exist.

They changed the plan to increase setback from the road and said the solar farm would be have substantial amounts of vegetation.

Strata said solar farms are proven to be safe and exist next to homes, and that there are no negative impacts on property values statewide.

The company even offered $7,000 a year to the local fire department to keep them ready to respond to any emergency at the solar farm. 

The council responded by voting for a moratorium on any and all future solar farms in Woodland, NC.

In other news, in my thoughts, I have seen rings of smoke through the trees. I've heard Led Zepplin sing about that for years now, but now I know they wrote that lyric after a visit to Woodland, NC.

No comments: