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7/24/17

An Off Grid Modern Prefab House Thinks On Solar Farms

In local happenings, at the modern off grid prefab house we are watching with interest an application for a solar farm nearby wend its way through bureaucratic proceedings! 

Have you considered how solar farms are controversial in rural areas? I read with interest the pros and cons, even though I am clearly a supporter of solar. All viewpoints are good to consider. 

I think that with sheep and goat management for mowing between solar panels (vs. RoundUp or rocks), pastures can remain not only viable but fertile. Fair taxation is something to consider as well... if you are getting financial breaks for farming, why not solar? 
  • Solar Farms And Land Use Concerns
    "...Communities have expressed skepticism about these larger solar farms for many reasons. Like many Virginia communities, Accomack County is a heavily agricultural. Agriculture is the primary land in Accomack County and a critical source of county income. To remove agriculturally-zoned lands from production for purposes of solar farm development worries some county officials. Furthermore, Virginia’s tax policy exempts solar projects from personal property taxes. For many local government officials, the prospect of “losing farmland” to utility-scale solar projects, and the accompanying loss of personal property tax revenue, is too much to bear."

    I am curious if county officials have numbers on taxes paid by farms, as we are talking FARMland... how many tax breaks are farmers getting vs. solar?
  • Solar Farming Not A Good Use Of Agricultural Land
    (Written by an extension agent)
    "...Fact 1. Solar farming will change the future productivity of the land.
    Because solar panels only capture 20% of the light for only about 5 hours of the day the rest of that solar energy will pass through to the ground. As a result grasses, broadleaf weeds, and eventually woody shrubs will grow. There are only three ways that solar farms can deal with this unwanted vegetation: herbicides, mowing, or ground cover or a combination of all three. All of us who have farmed this land understand how hard it is to control weeds in crops that intercept over 80% of the solar radiation. You can only imagine how hard it will be to control this vegetation in a solar farm. High rates of herbicides, frequent mowing, and the use of mulches, rock, or plastic will all have negative impacts on the land from herbicide residues, soil compaction and erosion, and particles of damaged panels left in the soil resulting in contamination from heavy metals and rare earth elements used in solar panels. Remember, you still own this land and you will be held responsible for water runoff, cleanup, and off site effects not to mention the accumulation of weeds like Palmer Amaranth over time and the eventual need to replace fertility lost. Make sure your contract with the solar farm has a clearly stated plan for dealing with unwanted vegetation. Plans that just state the use of herbicides, mowing or even the use of goats or sheep should be specific about types of herbicides, timing, rates, etc. Make sure these specific plans make sense for your land! Don’t accept anything that will harm the soil or its future productivity.
    Good soil is everything.


    Fact 2. Because of this lost productivity and the resulting changes in the farming communities caused by the loss of land, it is highly unlikely this land will ever be farmed again.
    ...
    Fact 3. You could be stuck with the cost of decommissioning these solar farms...The fact is that these panels are considered toxic waste due to the use of metals like cadmium and rare earth elements. These panels only have an expected life span of 20 years. Since they cannot be placed in landfills and are not accepted for recycling by any plant in the United States, it is highly likely that they will be either abandoned at the site or you (as the land owner) will be forced to pay for them to be shipped to third world countries for recycling.
    ...
    Make sure that the solar company has a viable decommissioning plan that spells out the terms of disposal, land grading, and restoration of the site to its original condition. Require them to post a bond to make sure they are still around at decommissioning time.
    ...
    Fact 4: Solar farming is not a good use of our landSolar farms are highly inefficient at producing energy. It is only through generous tax credits, the waving of property taxes, zero interest start-up loans, federal and state mandates that require utility companies to pay for the power at generous rates, etc. that these solar farms even have a chance of operating. Right now, it is costing North Carolina taxpayers $124 million dollars in lost tax revenues. This loss is expected to grow to $2 billion by 2020 to enable these farms to remain viable. In other words, you and the schools in your community are paying the bill."
The extension agent brings up great points. 
Poison on land (even in residential areas) should be banned as it affects not just the property but everyone. So yes, no more herbicides! Goats for everyone! Then the pastures will remain fertile and viable for future generations.

ANY company should clean up after itself on leased land. 
The removal / recycling / cleaning up of solar panels needs to be addressed now just like any corporate cleanup. ALL companies should be responsible for leaving no trace.

I do disagree with his tax assertions, and technology is certainly improving solar's efficiency. Farmers and farmland get significant tax breaks; solar farms are not built on suburban neighborhoods so to hypothetically treat them as such isn't fair. The article on the SunTec farm addressed many of the above concerns.

I'd take corporate responsibility a step further and agree with Lloyd Alter: it is time for deposits on everything, whether it be batteries, solar panels, bottles, and food containers.
via Twitter/ Shawn Micallef in Grange Park

From "It is Time for Deposits on Everything":"Look closely at Shawn Micallef’s photo at the top and you see that the mess is almost entirely disposable food and drink containers, primarily plastic bottles. In the name of customer convenience, the vendors of all this stuff have outsourced the responsibility of dealing with waste to the taxpayer who now has to pick it all up. Shawn tweets that 'We often design for some idealized Toronto, not the one Toronto wants to vote for or pay for.' But we shouldn't be paying for this; we are just being hosed and bamboozled by the people who sold the stuff."

Thrift Shoppin'

Meanwhile, On The Bay...
Behold the craziest thing I might have ever found antiquing. #OutsiderArt #PrisonArt 




Made entirely of used cigarette filters, this compound's roof lifts off to reveal a creepy shrine to some woman. I had to get it, even if to give away. 

The second it was in our hands we felt bad juju. The first thrift store we passed, we could not get it out of our car fast enough and donated it. Maybe I'll return with a priest, it needs it.

It goes back to my philosophy of putting smiles in the world. Some things emanate light, some dark. It is your responsibility that if you take a smile, you fix it, make it better, and put more smiles back in to the world than what you took. 

This old Ramshackle is FILLED with love. It emanates year after year of loving history, happy memories made, light, generations of nurturing. A timeless lesson, re-enforced: Don't ever bring in dark. Like light, darkness spreads. So kids, stick to the light. 
Speaking of love and light, the 150 Year Old Ramshackle is also filled with contented, snoring beasts. Imagine briskly opening the door, filled with productivity and a list of many things to accomplish, and stepping into THIS:

"I was feeling very productive. (What was I doing?)"

The soft sound of snoring slumber on a hot idle summer's day tosses ambition out the window. The soft carpets beg you to sink down and rest... rest... rest. 

Until, with dusk, energy starts up again.
I love watching two mastiffs and a (not so) little boy chase, jump, and tumble over each other at breakneck speed in the pasture as the sun sets, and fire flies fly.
Have a good week.

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