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Letter: Solar’s attraction

I read with great enthusiasm Richie Davis’ Dec. 18 article titled “Greener Pastures,” about exciting solar energy partnerships in our North Quabbin region. Then, I read with some sadness the Jan. 7 piece describing the objection of abutters who are quoted as referring to the project as “… corporate ruination of our rural, residential neighborhoods …”

This perception makes no sense to me, and in fact seems like it completely misses what I see as community strengthening about this project. The partnership forged by the efforts of local residents who created Pequiog Energy to help bring renewable energy to our communities is a great model. From what I understand, the projects unite two local well established farms with deep roots in the region, Hunts Farm and Adams Farm, with nonprofit organizations: the YMCA and Athol Memorial Hospital, and the municipalities of Athol, Warwick and Petersham which will benefit from clean, lower cost energy. The partnerships demonstrate the potential for renewable energy on non-tillable land while contributing significantly to the energy savings of small communities. This is … amazing! I may get a little more excited about renewable energy than the average consumer, given that our own experience living with solar energy has brought our family great power in many ways, but when I drive by the solar arrays on Hunts and Adams land and other sites in our region, I see beauty and I feel pride. Whereas, I do not find the crisscross of inefficient grid wires along streets and many hillsides at all attractive. If we are not producing our energy locally, someone else’s lives and communities are deeply affected, be it from coal mining, oil spills, or nuclear contamination. I commend this innovative renewable energy partnership and am proud that our North Quabbin region can serve as a model to others.

DEB HABIB

Orange

I'm all for green energy and I am a long time Bearsden Road resident (40years), however, I am not in favor of raping the land and stripping it of every last tree to install 12,000 solar panels. What Soltas, Pequiog Energy, and Adams Farm did to Bearsden Road is a travesty and they did it full well knowing there were concerns by the residents and simply ignored these concerns. The last thing I feel is pride when I drive up my once beautiful road, what I feel now is nausea at the sight of this sea of metal. My entire childhood was spent on Bearsden Road, we played hide & seek, went sledding, and road horses in those fields. We climbed those massive trees that were so carelessly torn from their roots and discarded as if they were nothing but a nuisance. We picked the wild raspberries and blueberries along the side of the road and brought wildflowers home to our Moms. As an adult I've watched thunderstorms roll through or ridden up to enjoy a splendid sunset. I've walked my dogs countless miles up and down that road on summer afternoons under the shade of the trees. Those days are gone and all those wonderful memories have been replaced by the sight of an endless repulsive jungle of metal and silicon. It's disheartening to think that people I have called my neighbors for 40+ years don't care about anything more than their bottom line. What a sad world we live in.

Unfortunately, while the abutters are certainly proponents of clean, renewable energy, we prefer such large scale industrial installations to not appear in our front and back yards. The Town failed to hold Soltas Energy, LLC, Pequoig Energy, LLC and Adams Farm, LLC accountable for following all state and town zoning by-laws. Even the 2007 Building Permit issued to Adams Farm to rebuild after their fire loss of 2006 was flawed. All parties involved in this project have denied the abutters/neighbors/residents voice and have failed to hear our questions and objections. Our amendment rights have been disallowed, and we believe we are eligible for civil/class action settlements. Town Hall Board members informed us that the whole deal was less than legal on many fronts, involving secret meetings held, favors paid to certain parties - even abutters were offered "favors" to allow the pushing through of this ill-sited project. Chapter 61A laws were violated, agricultural net metering limits of 2 MW were ignored. Just because we are small town residents does not mean that we don't see through being forced to accept projects that ruin our residential community neighborhoods. We anticipate that this will be a statewide/nationwide precedent setting case and we aim to work to rewrite the solar energy placement laws and help to protect other MA communities who are faced with such projects.

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