My Turn: Solar panel soliloquy


Published: 7/16/2021 9:39:48 AM

With a lifetime caring relationship with nature, I’d like to offer a perspective on proposed industrial solar development in our beautiful rural Massachusetts.

I support those who firmly believe solar is essential, in placing solar arrays on the rooftops of their homes and places of business. All the ‘big box’ stores have plenty of roof space to devote to solar. Businesses and apartment buildings in towns and cities likewise. That way, solar arrays will serve those who want them — and leave intact the little nature we have left.

Solar should be optional; taxpayers should not pay for it either in electric bills or taxes. Those who want solar panels should pay for them and maybe get a rebate or other benefits, as do folks who pay for installing a more efficient furnace, etc. Those who choose to install solar arrays should be easily able to directly use them to power their own businesses and homes. Perhaps this could eliminate some of the infrastructure needed to distribute electricity over long distances.

I have some personal experience of solar panels. The home I built over 30 years ago is passive solar, earth-bermed to the north. The refrigerator I chose uses only 15% of the electricity of a conventional one. Because a refrigerator is an appliance that is always running and uses a large amount of electricity, this (considerably more costly) option was important to me.

This refrigerator was adapted to run off six large solar panels installed on our south roof. An 80-pound boat battery was used for storage back-up. Every season, I would climb a ladder to adjust the angle of the solar array.

We soon learned what “intermittent” means. At high noon in summer, the giant battery would sputter and drool like a mad dog in the midday sun, threatening to explode (think battery acid and shrapnel from battery innards). I’d have to quickly disconnect the wire from the panels to avoid disaster. Also I had to disconnect if we were going out during the day in summer.

In winter, even a light snowfall would leave us without refrigeration until I climbed a 14-foot ladder onto an icy roof to clean the panels. With a drop of 10-plus feet on all sides, falling off the roof was not an option!

Eight-plus years of bi-polar solar made it clear that at least for us, it is a liability. Another 12 years or so would see the death of the solar panels, necessitating another few thousand or more dollars for new ones. A solar expert bought them and converted our wonderful energy-saving refrigerator to AC.

Politicians and others are pushing massive industrial solar ‘farms’ to be installed on our mountainsides - taking the place of forests which not only provide beauty for the soul and home to wildlife, but convert CO2 to oxygen supporting all animal life and ours as well.

To save nature, we are to sacrifice acres and miles of meadow, forest and farmland to industrialization and destruction by mega-billion dollar companies and those who are lobbied by said companies (that includes our local towns). Doubtless this will do wonders for what is left of our businesses that serve tourists! (sarc) Save nature by destroying it — perfectly logical.

You, me, and countless recently financially devastated people of Massachusetts — are to pay billions and trillions for this destruction of nature that will ‘save the planet’ — more logic!

Don’t believe me? Have you looked at your electric bill lately? In the last four years, mine has more than doubled — with little to no change in electricity use! After years of taxpayer-funded subsidies to “sustainable” energy — less than 4% of our electricity comes from solar or wind.

It’s not green! Most industrial wind turbines and solar panels are imported from China and other countries — think of the fuel consumed by carting mega-tons of panels across the oceans. Do you know that these “sustainable energy” devices are so troublesome and costly to recycle that they will most likely go on the trash heap. What happens in 20 or so years when many square miles of panels need replacing — where shall we put them all?? Oh — we get to pay for that, too!

Inculcating us with fear of death unless we sacrifice everything including nature to ‘save the planet’ (mistakenly thinking we would save ourselves at the same time), those who profit want us to give them yet more money?

Farmers and farmland that feeds us, the nature that supports us all — oh, they don’t matter!

By the way, I could use a luxury vacation. What is the amount of fuel to fly a private jumbo jet to Paris? (FYI: a round-trip flight = 15½ hours. One gallon fuel per second equals 54,000+ gallons of jet fuel.)

Ellen Landauer is an author and health researcher who lives in Charlemont.


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