The town of Woodland, North Carolina is in the spotlight this week after rejecting a proposal to rezone a section of land just outside its borders for the use of a solar farm.
Three solar farms have already been approved in the area, but the local residents are seemingly not impressed. The council defeated the motion for the rezoning of an area on US Highway 258 for an additional solar farm after a public comment period, where members of the town could give their opinions.
A retired science teacher, Jane Mann, said she was concerned about the rising risk of cancer deaths in the area (despite reports showing that cancer rates in North Carolina have fallen over the 2008 to 2012 period) saying that no one could tell her that solar panels were not causing the cancer.
She was also concerned that photosynthesis would slow due to the solar panels, stopping the plants from growing in the solar farm fields. "I want to know what's going to happen. I want information. Enough is enough. I don't see the profit for the town," Mann said at the meeting, according to The Roanoke-Chowan News Herald.
"People come with hidden agendas. Until we can find if anything is going to damage this community, we shouldn't sign any paper," she added.
Bobby Mann (it's not clear if he's related to Jane), said that he was worried that local communities would dry up. "You're killing your town," he said. "All the young people are going to move out."
He also argued that solar farms would suck up all the energy from the Sun, and new businesses would not come to Woodland.
The area just outside Woodland is a popular spot for solar farm developers, because it has an electrical substation, which means the panels can be hooked up to the national grid. While contruction has started on one of the three farms that have already been approved for the area, it's unlikely this forth one will get the go-ahead.
Unfortunately, this dislike of solar is not new. The New York Times reported in 2011 that when Oradell, New Jersey began putting up solar panels on power poles, many residents were unhappy. "I hate them," Eric Olsen told The New York Times. "It's just an eyesore."
Other residents were also reported as calling the panels "ugly" or "hideous", and said they were worried about their property value declining because of it.
However, these panels pushed New Jersey closer to their renewable energy target, which is one of the highest in the US. As of earlier this year, New Jersey also approved a bill that requires the state to get at least 80 percent of all its energy from renewable sources by 2050.
And not all New Jersey residents have been against these changes, with some seeing the panels as a badge of pride representing their switch to clean energy.
Hopefully, with increased exposure and better education, we can outline the positives of having solar panels installed in both big cities and country towns. We don't want another fiasco like this Wind Turbine Syndrome travesty.