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Reader opposes solar project

To the Editor,

As a lover of nature as well as regional history, I oppose the building of solar energy installations in Pulaski County, particularly in the piecemeal placement that is currently planned. If such a growth must intrude on the serene beauty of our hills and valleys, then it would be far better if it could be hidden in one area, not spread out in a field here, another there. I am particularly opposed to its being located in an area containing so many historical sites, such as New Dublin Presbyterian Church, Rockwood, and Back Creek. I’m very sorry that Oakland, an original Cloyd house, is not on the historical register in order to protect it. Pulaski County has just hired a new tourism director. Solar farms are not going to help her plan inviting tours. We have been told that a buffer zone and tree planting will hide the installations, but I would need to see more concrete evidence of that. We have been told that no trees will be removed or contours of the land changed, but I would need more information to believe it. Who will keep the buffer zones or the land around the solar panels clean and neat?

I do not favor the loss of agricultural land. A new, young generation should have a chance to enter farming because we may need more farm products in the future, and VA Tech with its agricultural department has always been our local pride. Unfortunately, solar farms want the best, the flattest land, land which should first be considered for agriculture. Our local farmers need all extra available land to grow feed. If they must compete with solar farms, the cost to rent that land will increase or little extra land be available. Then they must purchase feed, greatly increasing their cost, maybe driving some out of business. Local stores such as Ace Hardware, Tractor Supply, and Rural King will be adversely affected as the small farmer is slowly squeezed out. Solar farms don’t need any agricultural products. After 35 years, Pulaski County may be left with the cost and problems of decommissioning these farms even if the company has promised otherwise. That company may sell to another company which may not honor the original agreement. Solar panels are considered toxic waste and are not allowed in landfills or accepted for recycling. After 35 years, the land these panels were on may be so damaged it can never be used for agriculture again.

Economically, I don’t see much benefit for the average citizen of the county. We are an agricultural county, and solar farms will certainly not benefit the local farmers except for those landowners who will make a windfall renting their land. Are county residents going to be able to buy the electricity at a lower rate to repay them for their loss of natural beauty? Many homeowners may find that their property has decreased in value since incoming buyers may prefer agricultural beauty to having a solar farm nearby. My husband and I bought our land on Collier Street because we fell in love with the beauty of the area. We certainly would not have chosen to build near scattered solar farms.

Maybe the installation of solar farms will bring some good to the county that all residents can share; however, at this time I must oppose the plan as one which will benefit a few while the rest of our citizens are being forced to go along with something that brings more loss than benefit for them.

Sincerely,

Roxie S. Reed

Concerned citizen of Pulaski County

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