Solar Siting to Protect Forests & Local Authority S.2596

Hearing of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (TUE) Jan. 11 2022

Click this link for the recording — (Part 2)

“We want solar energy development to be as clean in implementation as it is in promise. Local boards are the people directly involved in directing and reviewing the siting and scale of these projects. We sincerely hope our political leaders agree with us in the importance of reasonable land use laws enacted and implemented at the municipal level.”

Belchertown Planning Board in support of S.2596

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The statute made sense in 1985 when it was passed; solar was a fledging residential technology and large scale industrial solar was not available.
The solar technology we are discussing today is completely different. The industrial solar installations of today are complex; the arrays span acres, require high voltage electric lines, earth moving, and storm water management; they often involve acres of tree cutting, and if they receive SMART subsidies, they must include large lithium-ion batteries that can be a fire hazard. As a result, like all industrial installations they should be sited, installed and operated in an appropriate and responsible manner to avoid problems.

“I’d like to speak to the idea of “reasonableness.” It’s hardly reasonable to convert our best farm soils to solar. Not when we already import 95% of our food in New England on carbon spewing diesel trucks.

It is reasonable to safeguard our food growing capability in the face of droughts and floods. It is reasonable to defend soils that can grow 10 foot tall corn in dry years and in rainy years.

It is also reasonable to conserve floodplain farmland which is nationally significant winter habitat for migratory birds.”

Fred Beddall in support of S.2596

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“Commercial solar energy systems have exploded across our commonwealth. By the end of 2020, Massachusetts ranked eighth in the nation in combined utility-scale and small-scale solar photo voltaic generating capacity with about 2,700 megawatts installed. “

Kelly Gallagher in support of S.2596

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“There are over 1 million acres of land already developed within Massachusetts. To the extent feasible, solar power should be deployed within these developed portions of the landscape, close to power demand. Recognizing that additional land will be required in order to meet the solar portion of renewable energy goals, land use plans and regulations should guide those projects to locations where the impacts on the ecosystem services provided by natural and working lands are minimized.

Mass Audubon in support of S.2596

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“Solar developers portray towns like mine as driven by selfish NIMBYism, but let us be very clear where the real selfishness lies. It is not towns attempting to protect local resources that is harming climate mitigation but rather powerful and well-connected profiteers seeking to exploit our planetary emergency. There is plenty of sunlight for all of us if we site solar energy installations where they best serve the welfare of all people and not just a few profiteers.”

Bill Stubblefield in support of S.2596

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“Buckland, like most communities, is made up of quite a variety of points of view. I think it’s safe to say that if the bylaws were unreasonable, they would not have passed with an almost unanimous vote at town meeting.
It is disturbing to me that my town can be in a position where our bylaws can be challenged, and it seems that the deciding factor will be who has the most money — the town or the developer.”

Janet Sinclair in support of S.2596

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Yes, it’s more expensive and complicated to install solar on built landscapes; brown and grey fields, but not as expensive as the true costs of losing the interconnected system nature worked long and hard to create; the biological and social community that is the forest and the soil’s microbial network.
Solar Companies are not equipped to understand or anticipate the full consequences of large-scale industrial installations on green lands as evidenced by devastating damage in Williamsburg and Wareham.
And now ironically, we rationalize that we must destroy nature’s perpetual actual green energy to replace it with man-made temporary ‘green energy’. Plants miraculously convert solar energy into carbon matter in a perpetual cycle, but we are more impressed with our solar collectors that after 25 years might become toxic waste.

Lenore Bryck in support of S.2596

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Additional messages in support of S.2596