Each day our newspapers are filled with climate change weather disasters seldom seen decades ago. Here in southeast Michigan we’ve been spared most of these disastrous events. We do experience more extreme precipitation events affecting farmers and flooding communities. Many have an attitude that if it doesn’t affect me then it’s not my problem. Well, the world has realized it is a major problem as heat indexes soar and water sources dry up around the world.
Recently our federal government stepped up its commitment and allocated $375 billion in the Inflation Reduction Act to the issue. It is primarily aimed at moving the U.S. away from human-made climate changing fossil fuels. Here in Southeast Michigan we are ground zero in a growing green energy economy. The area has the most radiant energy available for solar projects in the state and is being viewed as a growth target.
A week ago I was given the tax records of the Temperance Solar Farm in Erie Township. The records show that the 100-acre hay farm was generating $4,498.27 in taxes to the community. Now, as a solar farm, it’s paying $296,771.35 annually to Erie Township. Let that sink in for a minute! $4,498 as a hay farm to $296,771 as a new solar farm. WOW! That’s the promise of this new business opportunity opening up to our area.
The problem we face is a network of groups hellbent on stopping this new business opportunity. Their network across the country shares slick misinformation and travels from township to township pestering local officials with their outrageous claims. Their backers spend money on yard signs and postcards to sway the residents of these communities.
The facts are solar farms are not destroying farmland, urban sprawl is. Urban-sprawl never is a win-win for a community. It always raises taxes with increased needs for schools, police and infrastructure. Only a few people benefit from this real estate boom. Most people see higher taxes, and in the case of farmers, the land sale ends their farming legacy. Solar farms do not destroy farmland, which can be still farmed in many cases, and is why it’s still ruled as PA116 eligible. The solar facility doesn’t use or need community infrastructure but it does pay increased taxes as compared to its original use, which can lower all taxes in the community.
Solar farms are a stopgap to the sprawling development eating up our farms across the country. It locks the farmland up for 30 years, saving it from total destruction, sparing neighbors noisy traffic-congested sprawl. They do not pollute but industrial farming relies on pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. In some case bio-solids applied on fields have increasingly poisoned many farms with heavy metals and PFAS unknown to the neighbors or farmers themselves. This all ends up in our lakes and streams but we can reduce the problem.
So don’t buy the organized naysayers who have an agenda that isn’t good for communities you actually live in. It’s a new day in Southeast Michigan!
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