My backyard opens out to a field where a massive solar farm is being proposed

When I first heard that a local church was planning to build a solar farm in the field next to my house, I was fairly pleased. I envisioned a modest array of solar panels providing power to the houses in the neighborhood – a far better plan than some of the proposals for that former cow pasture that have come up over the years.

I support alternative energy, solar power included. I even have some modest investments in companies involved in the alternative energy industry.

Then I learned some of the details.

The church, along with a solar energy development company from Maryland, wants to put up 11,000 10’x3’ solar panels in a field about double the size of a football field. According to them, this will provide enough electricity for 400 homes – but not necessarily ours. The electricity will be sold on the grid. So far, anyway, I haven’t heard of any provisions to allow us to tap into it – for a fee, of course. I’m not looking for free power, just something less expensive than what I’m paying now.

This is a neighborhood of homes and old farmland. The largest structures are a handful of old barns. This solar farm would dwarf any structure in the neighborhood. The solar farm, as currently proposed, is simply a profit-making industrial plant. It has no business being inserted into the life of a neighborhood.

At various times over the past 50 years, this field has been a cow pasture, a cornfield, and most recently a hayfield that is still mown regularly. In summer it’s carpeted with wildflowers. Many of my neighbors have decks and closed in porches that look out over a view of fields and forests. They don’t like the idea of looking out over a field of gleaming solar panels.

There also hasn’t been much discussion of what measures they might take to mitigate the visual impact, but realistically, how is anyone going to hide 11,000 large solar panels? And what about lighting? Will there be security lights shining all night?

In order to access the field, a road will have to be cut from the church headquarters on Electric Avenue (half a mile away) through an extensive wetland, something that the town’s Conservation Commission has already expressed opposition to.

So does all this make me just another NIMBY (Not-in-my-Backyard)? I’m hoping not.

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