Sunday, December 12, 2010

More Solar Power Projects More Complaints

Backed by incentives but often greeted with skepticism, solar energy is beginning to surge in the Lehigh Valley and northwestern New Jersey.

At least 20 solar energy projects have been proposed or finished over a little more than a year.

"We definitely are busier than ever," said Jennifer Beattie, a marketing coordinator for Vanguard Energy Partners, a New Jersey-based company that opened a Bethlehem office in June. "(We) have more projects going on now than we ever have,"

But the surge in solar proposals has come with a surge in complaints.

Among the most common are those raised in White and Greenwich townships -- that views of farm fields will be replaced by rows of mirrors facing skyward.

When a plan for 300,000 solar panels in Greenwich Township was aired at a zoning hearing in June, more than 100 people from a standing-room-only crowd spilled outside the meeting room.

Residents in those townships, particularly those who live near potential solar sites, worry about the effect on their lives and property values.

The plan in Greenwich Township to install more than 300,000 panels over 110 acres pitched by Warren Solar, a subsidiary of Houston-based Elements Marketing, had residents questioning its merits as recently as a Thursday land use board hearing.

Real estate appraiser Charles Blau theorized at the hearing that taking away open farmland could hurt property values, but admitted there is limited information to draw from since solar power is still a young industry.

The White Township proposal is on a private property and has received the approval of the local zoning board, but a developer and opposing resident are working to reach a settlement.



Victor said...

Yes, In real estate there are many ways solar water and electric can hurt values. THis article shows Jersey property being used a central source of energy for the community. This is logical and very smart. They do not have towering wind mills to mess up view. Just glazed mirrors at 45degree angle on the ground. Real estate should not be hurt but actually it should create incentive for people to buy houses that has solar energy as primary. However in single family occupancies sometimes there can be problems.

Suzanne said...

If I was going to benefit from the solar energy I would consider it a benefit in my neighborhood. Even if I didn't benefit, I'm so much in favor of it I would consider it a plus.

They could use some PR about the benefits of solar. I see grass under those panels. It seems like the land would still be fertile underneath unlike housing where they scrape off the top soil and sell it. I wonder if a solar farm like that could even enrich the soil each year I suppose they wouldn't want to deal with tall grass and such, but they might be able to plant a ground cover that is short, protects the land and enriches it a bit too. It would be something for them to think about.