Like It or Not, Solar Farms May Be On Their Way

by Kerry Dougherty 

I know it’s winter and Virginia is not looking her best. But if you have nothing else to do this weekend, may I suggest you take a drive into the rural corners of the commonwealth and soak up the bucolic scenery.

Check out those cotton fields along Route 58 west toward Danville, even though most of the cotton has been harvested. Check out the farmland of the Middle Peninsula and the Northern Neck. Then head out toward Lexington and north to the orchards of the Shenandoah Valley. Don’t forget to take a drive up the Eastern Shore past the thousands of acres that in summer give us potatoes, tomatoes and corn. Lastly, zip out to Pungo where the fields will be full of strawberries in a few months

While you’re driving, take a gander at the beautiful old growth forests that blanket much of the Old Dominion.

In fact, take a good, long look. Drink it in. Vow to never forget the beauty that was once Virginia.

Because next time you pass through these areas you may see nothing but the glare of solar panels. The wildlife that once inhabited the land? The birds that nested in the trees? The produce that flourished in the fields? Gone.

If Democrats in Richmond have their way, that is.

As has become glaringly obvious in recent years, Virginia’s Democrat Party has taken a hard left turn. It’s now infested with climate crazies. They’re not happy that rural counties are desperately trying to preserve their agricultural heritage – and Virginia’s breadbasket – by limiting how much land greedy solar companies can gobble up with their fat tax incentives and government grants.

To speed things along, there are two bad bills making their way through the General Assembly that would allow the companies to bypass recalcitrant local authorities and go straight to the State Corporation Commission for approval to essentially pave over thousands of acres of farmland and forests and cover them with solar panels.

There’s HB636, the brainchild of Del. Richard “Rip” Sullivan of Fairfax and in the Senate, Creigh Deeds is carrying SB567. Both bills allow solar companies to head to the SCC if they don’t win approval quickly from local government or if they are denied outright.

The Smithfield Times has an excellent piece on these bills, and a quote from a member of Surry’s Board of Supervisors that neatly encapsulates everything that’s wrong with this approach.

Amy Drewry, who in November was elected to represent Surry’s Dendron District on the Board of Supervisors, said she too opposes Sullivan’s bill.  “Taking the decision-making abilities away from local government completely disregards each rural community’s special history, nature and geology,” said Drewry, who likened the bill to a form of eminent domain. She’s calling upon legislators and solar developers to instead make their projects more palatable to rural localities by offering above-market cash incentives to affected residents or place solar panels in dilapidated urban areas rather than on farmland.  “It is a draconian solution to a problem that could be creatively dealt with in other ways,” she said.

These ham-handed bills are part of a breathless push by Dems to comply with the overly ambitious 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act they passed during the radical period known as the Northam administration. That law requires that roughly 2/3 of Virginia’s electricity come from wind or solar farms by 2035.

These measures are meeting stiff opposition not just by boards of supervisors, but by the Virginia Association of Counties, which wants to stop this authoritarian move by Richmond to “usurp local authority to determine how such facilities fit within local landscapes.”

Rather than sacrifice Virginia’s farmland and forests to comply with this delusional energy bill, the General Assembly ought to repeal the 2020 law, defeat both of the new bills and return the power to decide the future of land use to the people of Virginia who actually live and pay taxes in those localities.

Republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed and Unedited.