There are obviously people who don’t want solar fields in Goodland Township. The resistance to change is based, among other reasons, on the idea that things should always remain the same. Unfortunately that is not viable given our increasing need for energy and the pollution of our atmosphere. There’s even been mention of greed concerning those township residents who have signed leases with Orion Renewable Energy Group. There’s been no mention of the number of farmers who have sold their farms due to economic hardship. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 500 farms have shut down in Michigan in the last year. That’s seven percent of the total drop in U.S. farms. If they had used their rights as property owners they might have been able to lease part of their property for solar utilization and they might still be farming.

There are concerns about the reduction of property values, which have not been shown to affect rural communities as they do urban properties, according to a story in the March 22 edition of Farm Journal.

There’s also a “not in my backyard” mentality that doesn’t admit to the additional benefits to a solar field. There are “stacked ecological benefits” such as planting vegetation that can be food sources for pollinators. There’s a certified National Wildlife Federation Wildlife Habitat on NexAmp’s array in Rutland, Massachusetts. There are programs that educate people about the deep-rooted native flowers and grasses that increase soil health, control soil erosion, improve water quality and retention and carbon sequestration. This also helps implement the resurgence of beneficial insects. Solar fields provide grazing and forage for sheep and chickens.

The state of Michigan has a $10 million Rural Energy Pilot Program that offers financial assistance for rural communities to develop renewable energy. Farms are utilizing solar provided energy for pumping water, irrigating distant fields and are currently being used for India, Africa and South America. Solar power is providing energy for dryers for crops and grain and heating greenhouses. These are dual use practices that can make farming viable for those who contemplate selling their farms due to increased production costs. An added benefit is that solar fields can be dismantled, unlike housing developments and then revert back to agricultural usage. Since 2014 France has developed means to recycle solar parts.

—Sam Fredendall,
Goodland Twp.