Rejection of solar farms in Ohio grows locally and statewide
Columbiana County Commissioners approved a resolution to limit the construction of large wind and solar farms in seven more townships, while many townships across the state have rejected projects as well.
Those who support the solar farm movement said the projects could bring an economic boost to communities, but it's going to take more interest and investment in the idea, which is not the trend at this time for many rural Ohio townships.
"You're actually generating energy from the sun, free energy from the sun so there's plenty of benefits to go around, and those properties are taxed so that's where I think a lot of communities find a lot of benefits from these projects," Tristen Rader, Solar United Neighbors Ohio Program Director said.
Author, journalist and podcaster of "Power Hungry," Robert Bryce, said many rural Ohioans and small-town jurisdictions Americans across the nation do not find the energy source attractive and believe it's going to come at a cost in one way or another, as Ohio townships are using the legislative authority previously granted by the state to reject solar farm projects.
Columbiana County Commissioner and President Mike Halleck said he'd estimate about 80-90% of township residents are against it, not only because they don't like how the panels look, but because there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the technology.
"Who is going to repair and take care of these? What's the useful life of them?" Halleck said.
Bryce said people also oppose the farm projects because of concerns over losing property value in their surrounding neighborhoods.
"They're concerned about their viewsheds. They don't want to have to look at these solar projects," he said, "The local communities are looking at these projects and they are saying 'This is going to ruin the character of our neighborhoods.'"
While another concern of residents is what solar energy would cost them initially if they utilize the energy, Rader said he has researched communities with solar farms receive income tax benefits that help their town thrive, along with seeing the benefits to farmers who own the land.