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Solar farm tax break is a bad deal for Brown County

In a month or two, the Brown County Commissioners will decide on a proposal that affects all county residents. Intersect Power, a California-based solar-power development company, requested an 85 percent tax abatement over 10 years to build a 3,000-acre solar farm in southwest Brown County. There are countless reasons why this is a bad deal for Brown County. The commissioners want to hear what residents have to say, so we urge you to write, call or email your commissioner and tell them to vote no on the abatement.

In a month or two, the Brown County Commissioners will decide on a proposal that affects all county residents. Intersect Power, a California-based solar-power development company, requested an 85 percent tax abatement over 10 years to build a 3,000-acre solar farm in southwest Brown County. There are countless reasons why this is a bad deal for Brown County. The commissioners want to hear what residents have to say, so we urge you to write, call or email your commissioner and tell them to vote no on the abatement.

One reason local governments like to hand out abatements is for the promise of new jobs. In the case of Intersect Power, they have assured a grand total of two permanent jobs. According to the numbers Intersect Power provided the commissioners, an abatement from the county could save the company over $1 million in exchange for two full-time jobs. That doesn’t feel equitable to us. In the end, government subsidies, like this abatement, only distort our energy markets with artificially-low or negative prices that drive out reliable energy and threaten our power grid.

Let’s not forget the environmental impacts of solar farms. “Environmentally friendly”... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

In a month or two, the Brown County Commissioners will decide on a proposal that affects all county residents. Intersect Power, a California-based solar-power development company, requested an 85 percent tax abatement over 10 years to build a 3,000-acre solar farm in southwest Brown County. There are countless reasons why this is a bad deal for Brown County. The commissioners want to hear what residents have to say, so we urge you to write, call or email your commissioner and tell them to vote no on the abatement.

One reason local governments like to hand out abatements is for the promise of new jobs. In the case of Intersect Power, they have assured a grand total of two permanent jobs. According to the numbers Intersect Power provided the commissioners, an abatement from the county could save the company over $1 million in exchange for two full-time jobs. That doesn’t feel equitable to us. In the end, government subsidies, like this abatement, only distort our energy markets with artificially-low or negative prices that drive out reliable energy and threaten our power grid.

Let’s not forget the environmental impacts of solar farms. “Environmentally friendly” dubbed solar panels are instead very environmentally unfriendly. Millions of gallons of water are needed to clean the solar panels to maintain power generation. A professor at the University of Texas said, “when push comes to shove, water could become the real throttle on renewable energy.” With our area’s history of drought, can we in good conscience tie up our precious water supply for the next few decades for a non-life-sustaining source?

Changes in water runoff patterns can also be affected by the installation of solar panels. Solar panels cause rainwater to collect at the drip line and erode a channel into the earth. If not properly managed, this watershed disturbance can also lead to soil scouring, erosion, and contamination. There is also the concern of the toxic materials inside the panels leaching after being broken during natural events like hail storms and tornadoes. One scientist found the carcinogenic cadmium found inside panels could almost entirely wash out simply by rainwater over several months.

While the above changes in water patterns can also affect local wildlife, the solar panels themselves can lead to a degradation or loss of wildlife habitat. Just look to California, where a solar farm wrecked an already threatened desert tortoise population. Intersect Power told the commissioners that wildlife disturbance would be minimal, although the aforementioned California project proposal also underestimated its effect on the tortoises.

The winged population is also known to take a hit from solar farms. Federal investigators have called solar farms “mega-traps” due to the power of the “lake-effect” where birds and their prey crash into the reflective solar panels, mistaking them for a body of water. The solar farms in southern California kill an estimated 16,000 to 59,000 birds every year.

Intersect Power told the commissioners their solar panels would have a life of roughly 35 to 40 years. However, a quick Google search returns many results saying the life spans are more like 25 to 30 years. A more detailed search indicates that this lifespan can fall below 20 years in high-temperature climates. What to do with solar panels once they’re no longer viable has become a topic of much discussion. What becomes of the lead, cadmium, and other toxic materials used to manufacture these panels?

Estimates show that the accumulation of solar trash worldwide will be 78 million metric tons by 2050. A study shows that disposal is a significant issue as toxic materials leach into the soil when disposed of in a regular landfill. Solar panel disposal in city landfills costs approximately $1 per panel versus $12 to $25 to recycle. To our knowledge, Intersect Power had not addressed the panel’s disposal at the end of their lives. Will the panels contaminate our Brown County landfill or remain forever abandoned on site due to the high removal cost?

Have the county commissioners considered the economic costs of losing five square miles of agricultural and hunting land? This land loss could affect jobs and incomes or, at a minimum, city and county sales taxes. The impacts we’ve listed out could negatively affect our county for decades to come and potentially forever. There is simply not enough research on the long-term effects these solar farms cause to the land or the surrounding areas.

If we allow this solar farm to take roots in our county, it will open the floodgates for other solar and wind companies looking for a handout throughout the county. Intersect Power admitted to the commissioners that the project would not be viable without the abatement. This company is seemingly unwilling to shoulder a small financial cost (state and local taxes are a small portion of a company’s overall expenses). Therefore, why should we shoulder the unknown burden of what this solar farm means for Brown County’s future? Again, we urge you to tell your county commissioner to vote no to this solar farm tax abatement.

For more information or to get involved with our group, please visit TLOW.org.

Ronnie and Julia Taylor are concerned taxpayers and life-long residents of Brown County.


Source: https://wctexasnews.com/sto...

JAN 19 2021
https://www.windaction.org/posts/52189-solar-farm-tax-break-is-a-bad-deal-for-brown-county
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