The solar debate

Published 10:13 am Friday, September 23, 2016

Few topics raised get the attention of Southampton County residents more than those that have the potential to disrupt the agrarian tradition of the mostly rural community. The debate over whether or not to allow solar farms in the county is clearly no exception.

Both sides of the debate are equally passionate. Both have made excellent points. What is still undetermined, however, seems to be which side is right.

The farming community has valid concerns, but the development of two solar farms should not be the cause. What should be concerning to farmers is the thought of what would happen if the solar door is kicked in and multiple farms are developed, significantly reducing the available number of acres available to keep farm operations running in the county. How many farmers would be forced to shut down, and what would be the impact to the local economy?

On the flip side of the debate, non-farming residents should be asking if the economic impact of solar farms is too good to pass up in an economy that is almost solely dependent on farm-related revenue and real estate taxes. If the county is struggling financially, can it afford to turn away the additional revenue these solar facilities would generate?

It is unclear to us as to whether there is a clear-cut answer at this time, and so we believe it may be time to tap the brakes and slow down the process until more definitive information is available. Perhaps the prudent thing to do is to push the debate a little further down the road until more answers can be clearly identified.