Opinion: Solar companies must take more care in siting panels

Following the afterglow of the 300,000-person march for global warming in New York City, I’d like to introduce an alternate dose of reality to the discussion. SunCommon solar company of Waterbury seems to have the Vermont governor and the Public Service Board in their hip pocket.
Since Vermonters started pushing back on mountaintop wind projects, the solar industry has found a way to get around Act 250 regulations and can go into any town and, with a landowner’s permission, erect any size solar array with little or no adherence to local authority, town plans or objections. And they’re doing this industrialization of Vermont fields at an alarming speed.
The enthusiasm of some people to destroy the landscape and tourist draw of what is Vermont’s natural beauty is breathtaking. From Bridport to Waitsfield, New Haven and Vergennes, fields of black glass and steel are rapidly replacing crops, cows and wildflowers.
Arguments in favor of this mass disfigurement of Vermont are that we need to reduce our carbon footprint due to global warming. Another is that the world will follow Vermont’s lead in alternative energy conversion.
To the first point, I would say that Vermont already leads the country to rank 50th with the lowest carbon output of all other states. The second, well that’s as arrogant and egotistical sense of self-importance a statement as any I’ve ever heard. Just to put Vermont’s yearly carbon output in real terms, our contributions of greenhouse gases compared to the rest of the world is 0.0002 percent. In other words, the rest of the world produces 99.998% more carbon emissions than Vermont.
Why do we have to destroy our countryside to make a point that has been made? Vermont already has extremely low carbon emissions.
I’m tired of people saying we have to sacrifice for the greater good. How about the solar industry sacrificing some profits to find more appropriate venues for constructing their products. They already get a 30 percent Investment Tax Credit (ITC) from the federal government.
Our landscape is changing faster than Vermonters recognize. What they have known for so many years is soon to vanish under a plague of unregulated, industrial-sized solar “farms.”
Would paintings of Woody Jackson’s cows sell better if the background scene was filled with solar panels? I think not. Why would people visit Vermont if the natural landscape now reminded them of the East Coast I-95 corridor? They wouldn’t have to leave home to see that.
Robert Deeble

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