Solar farms would be a ‘bad deal’ for Southampton

Published 9:59 am Wednesday, August 10, 2016

To the Editor:

I was pleased to read Westley Drake’s letter on solar farms. We often think our young people are not interested in Southampton County, but Westley proves that statement to be wrong. Our younger generations will have to deal with decisions made now, right or wrong, for the rest of their lives. Therefore, we need to study the issues thoroughly, just as Westley did, before forming opinions.

Before making a decision on solar farms we need to answer several questions. How many farmers and businesses will be affected? Meherrin Chemicals in Newsoms closed its retail business last week. Several farmers’ livelihoods are already threatened by the first solar farm. For every person who loses his or her job, the whole county will lose.

The county will lose tax revenue. When a farmer goes out of business, there will be no more taxes paid on the farm equipment — tractors, combines, cotton pickers, trucks, etc. nstead of creating more jobs, it will stifle job creation.

The local agricultural businesses will lose. Conservatively, it costs $400 per acre for fertilizer, chemicals, seed, harvesting, in addition to land rent. The proceeds are spent in the local economy. Multiply this by the number of acres involved. For the first solar farm it is 1,200 acres. Others may follow.

Compare this to the revenue generated by the solar farms. Over half of those signed up do not live in our county, and their dollars likely will not be spent locally.

If you have a solar farm next to your home, who would want to buy it — or build next to one? Your property value would decrease.

Hunting is currently the biggest tourism activity in the county. It brings in funds for the county through land rent, gas purchased, food for dogs and people to eat, etc. Solar farms will cause problems for hunters, dogs, the animals hunted, as well as the solar panels.

Once the Nat Turner walking and driving trails are established, heritage tourism will bring in visitors and their dollars to our economy. Will that be affected by solar farms?

I think solar farms are a bad deal for our rural county.

Lynda Updike