Are fields of solar panels really all that great? 

March 7 – The fields of solar panels have been cropping up in our area over the last few years on farmland. 

There’s been a big push for solar energy being the wave of the future – using the sunlight to fuel our homes and businesses. 

But the question remains – do we have the technology to support it and what, really, is the big picture with these fields of solar panels in our backyards? 

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “I went back a little bit to see what in the world is going on with Pennsylvania and solar, and I came across the SunShot Initiative, which around 2016, 2017 apparently the state of Pennsylvania got involved with this SunShot Initiative. I know there’s incentives and then people are coming to farmers in particular and saying, hey, we know you’re struggling to keep the family farm and here’s a way you can preserve your land and put solar panels up, you get paid for it. I can see why farmers would be attractive to them. However, we’re starting to find out well whoa, wait a minute. This ended up being very large solar panel fields and people who own land around these are getting quite upset. I know there was I think it was 1,000 acres slated for solar panels. I think it might have been over 15 farms around Gettysburg. Now that was successfully stopped and I think for the good of the whole community, including those farmers because of how that would hurt tourism and the beautiful way that Gettysburg is presented along with that tourism. Now we have this Path Valley project that I think is pretty much a done deal there. I’m not really sure you could stop it at this point. However, I do know there have been people, I’m sure your offices have been getting phone calls from people very concerned about that project, concerned about well waiting, where might future projects be popping up?”

PA Representative Rob Kauffman said, “It is a concern. First of all, a lot of folks have brought this to me, I understand the idea of solar fields but are we allowing this in some of our most prime farmland? Shouldn’t it be over here, over there? Of course, this initiative was during the Wolf administration in this drive to go solar and open up the opportunity for solar. There’s also and I hate to go on the flip side, but you go downstream to when these solar panels expire, and how do you dispose of them? You’re looking at a lifespan of maybe 25 years. All of these solar panels are just out there. Okay, what do you do with them now?”

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM added, “I had a listener just call me about 15 minutes ago saying this stuff has been going on in California for a very long time and this stuff is expiring out there and after 25 years, they don’t know what to do with this stuff. It’s becoming a real problem. Then I hear lawmakers going, you know what? We’re going to put these things up right now and the technology will follow. That’s kind of like Nancy Pelosi saying we’re going to sign this bill and we’ll figure out what’s in it.”

Kauffman said, “I get the idea it is private property. As long as they go through a process, they can place things like this on their own private property, but we do need to also be looking at the bigger picture.”

There have been questions about what kind of zoning is in Fannett Township, where some of these solar panels could be headed. 

Ryan said, “You get and you get somebody with a shiny solar company and going out there with a big fat check and all of a sudden it’s game on here. Nothing to worry about. Here’s a piece of paper. Sign it. We’ll catch you a little bit later on. Here’s the other thing that Michelle and I talked about with these solar panels, alright, so you want to have this legislation so that the poor farmer who’s busted his chops and the family’s chops. They’ve put generations into their farm and now I’ve got lawmakers with a burden here, you can’t spray this chemical. Here, you can’t do this here. We’ve got to kiss the fanny of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Here are all these regulations. Here comes all the EV stuff here. So all you people around the farms that didn’t put up a fight when it came to these overreaching green energies. So what’s the farmer to do? I love what I do and I want to feed the world. But I’ve got the lefty governors who don’t understand we’re doing our level best to control these things and if you regulate the ever lights out of us for maybe a half a percent of a change in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, then what’s the farmer to do? Also point at the landowners around them. Where were you people while I was getting shellacked by the lawmakers here? It’s a self fulfilling prophecy.”

“It is,” Kauffman agreed. “There is the concept that these are family farms, trying not to go into traditional development. They want to salvage the land, keep the land and they’re just looking for options because yes, the government, society has really rained down on them in a negative way. So what do they do? Somebody comes along and says here’s an option for you. It’s not putting your farm into traditional development. It’s something that will give you some breathing room, some cash flow, and here you go. Who’s to fault them? They’re trying to survive.”

Jansen added, “The other disturbing thing and we’re finding this on so many fronts. We’re getting panic messages about we have to do this and then we have a government that’s putting its finger on the scale because part of the reason they can pay these farmers to do this is because of the money coming from the federal government, supplementing these solar panel companies when we don’t have the technology yet to utilize these things well. But see, it’s not about making sure we’re economically sound and energy independent. It’s about fulfilling social justice requirements that we owe the rest of the world for climate change and we have to punish ourselves even if it means we have a lesser society, even if it means brownouts and blackouts in our future. We’re not ready for this technology yet, but we won’t acknowledge that because social justice demands environmental justice which demands idiotic reasoning behind some of these decisions.”