Author Topic: Solar farm divides a ranching community  (Read 116 times)

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Online Elderberry

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Solar farm divides a ranching community
« on: March 09, 2019, 08:20:02 AM »
Houston Chronicle by  L.M. Sixel March 8, 2019

David Dunagan and his wife, Lori, moved to this East Texas ranching community two years ago to escape the bright lights of Dallas, finding peace on a back patio overlooking the emptiness of rolling grasslands dotted by grazing cattle and deer.

What they didn’t count on was one of the fastest growing industries in the state choosing a location that would blot the pastoral landscape and upset their vision of a bucolic lifestyle.

That industry is solar energy and the Dunagans are at the forefront of a campaign to stop the development of a 1,100-acre solar farm with as many as 450,000 solar panels — a campaign that has bitterly divided this unincorporated community in Van Zandt County between landowners who will benefit from leasing their property and those who see a threat to a fragile ranching ecosystem that depends on water, grass and space. The debate here has also raised questions about the environmental impact of what is widely considered an environmentally friendly technology and the appropriateness of industrial installations in rural and natural locations.

The debate is likely to spread to other communities across the state. Solar is the fastest growing source of electricity in Texas, with its share of power generation expected to double to 2 percent this year and more than double again to 5 percent in 2021, according to the Texas Solar Power Association, a trade group. Solar projects are under development in about 80, or nearly one-third, of the state’s 254 counties.

The Dunagans, whose 2.5 acre property would be surrounded by sun-catching panels, have discovered that the solar development would be like any other power generation installation. Fencing with razor wire would keep out intruders. Rollers would click throughout the day as panels on tracking devices rotate to face the sun. Hazardous chemicals contained in the panels pose threats of contamination.

“It will look like a solid sea of panels,” said David Dunagan.

Other property owners, however, welcome the project, which David Dunagan said is offering as much as $450 per acre per year to lease the land for as many as 40 years, compared to $15 an acre landowners would get for cattle grazing. The solar farm is also expected to generate $22 million in new tax revenue for the Canton Independent School District, adding an extra 2.75 percent a year to the district’s $20 million budget. It will also be a welcome addition to Van Zandt County whose average adjusted gross income in 2016 was $49,000, compared to $67,000 statewide. The solar farm is expected to contribute $9 million to county coffers over its life of 35 to 40 years.

Van Zandt County Judge Don Kirkpatrick is walking a thin line, aware of hard feelings from both sides.

“I wouldn’t want it beside me,” he said in his office at the county courthouse in Canton. “But I wouldn’t want government telling me what to do with my property.”

Eyes of the beholder

Solar and wind power are classified as clean energy, but clean, as Van Zandt County shows, can be a matter of opinion. Wind and solar projects have spurred fierce debate in communities around the country.

More: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/Solar-farm-divides-a-ranching-community-13674816.php
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Offline IsailedawayfromFR

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Re: Solar farm divides a ranching community
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2019, 08:42:00 PM »
One reason I never sign up with any power company that highlights renewables.

Lesson demand, they will not build the renewable plants.

Besides that, it saves a ton of money which makes me feel real good.
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Online Elderberry

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Re: Solar farm divides a ranching community
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2019, 06:14:13 PM »
Its my understanding that one doesn't actually sign up with a power company. Its actually a power marketer that you sign up with.
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Offline IsailedawayfromFR

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Re: Solar farm divides a ranching community
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2019, 07:46:27 PM »
Its my understanding that one doesn't actually sign up with a power company. Its actually a power marketer that you sign up with.
Yep, and it is seamlessly all done for you as the effect is the same.
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Online Elderberry

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Re: Solar farm divides a ranching community
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2019, 07:53:02 PM »
Yep, and it is seamlessly all done for you as the effect is the same.

Absolutely. No matter what they claim, the only difference between them is the price. And it does not matter who I sign with, I still receive my power from Centerpoint.
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Offline Cyber Liberty

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Re: Solar farm divides a ranching community
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2019, 10:11:48 PM »
One reason I never sign up with any power company that highlights renewables.

Lesson demand, they will not build the renewable plants.

Besides that, it saves a ton of money which makes me feel real good.

People in Phoenix found out the hard way that the electricity is only part of why they charge you.  When the grid started seeing less demand the power companies got rate increases targeted at owners of solar panels.  So...one year they pay a bonus for solar, the next they add a surcharge.
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