Woodland, North Carolina has just voted to deny the building of a solar farm within their community after members of the public brought concerns before their council members. The main issue that the town has seems to have stemmed from a very strong belief that solar panels suck up all the energy from the sun and would be damaging for the community.
Strata Solar Company had applied to have a solar farm built in Woodland, off U.S. highway 258 and it seemed as if the permit to rezone the land from RA (residential/ agricultural) to M2 (manufacturing) would be granted at first. In fact The Planning Board of Woodland had recommended to rezone the plot of land just north of the town, and three other companies had previously been given permission to construct other solar farms. but residents presented a petition that swayed the Woodland Town Council to reject the permit to build the solar farm.
Fear and distrust seemed to be the emotional reaction to the solar panels. The Roanoke-Chowan News Herald reported that two very vocal community members who took issue with the possibility of a solar farm in Woodland was Bobby and Jane Mann. At the council meeting Bobby Mann said that the solar farms would suck up all the energy from the sun and affect business coming to the area. Mr Mann compared building the solar farm to when the I-95 came to towns and the communities around them died off.
“You’re killing your town. All the young people are going to move out.”
Jane Mann, is a retired Northampton science teacher whose concerns line up with Booby’s but also include the town’s aesthetics. Jane Mann was worried that all the plants that make the area beautiful would die. She stated that she has observed that solar panes prevent surrounding plants from photosynthesizing and as a result the plants are brown and dead because of a lack of sunlight. The former teacher of science also speculated that the high number of cancer related deaths in the area is caused by the solar panels and that no one could tell her differently.
Attempts from a Strata spokesperson to convince the town members not to reject the proposal by explaining that solar panels and solar farms do not harm any community that they are placed in. The company advised that since there also existed concerns that property values would decrease because of the sight of the solar farm they could change their original plans and move it further back from the road and give the solar farm a substantial amount of surrounding vegetation. They also said that property values state-wide do not suffer because of solar panels.
“There are no negative impacts. A solar farm is a wonderful use for a property like this… The panels don’t draw additional sunlight.”
According to the Independent, the town of Woodland is a popular location for solar farms because the solar power generated by the panels can be hooked up straight to the national grid as a result of the town’s electrical substation. The town itself would not have directly benefited from the solar farm though as the power generated would go straight to the grid and not reduce the electric bill in Woodland.
The vote to reject the building of the solar farm was passed three to one by members of the council. The council also later voted for a complete moratorium on solar farms in Woodland. There will be no chance for any other solar entity to suck up all the sun in the town.
The Woodland decision to reject solar panels is an interesting one considering what the Paris climate change summit determined. Alternative, renewable power such as solar and wind power were agreed upon as some of the best ways to affect change and reduce environmentally toxic emissions.
[Photo Courtesy of Mark Wilson/ Getty Images]