To plan the best way forward we must first adjust historical dollar values for inflation and restate in 2022 and then consider:
- Mason County’s 2017 rural revenue has dropped dramatically
- Local topography does not support large-scale continuous row crops
- Mason County in 2017 had
- Tilled corn and corn-soybeans caused 4–6 times more soil erosion than the baseline grassland
- Agricultural chemical pollution is the top source of contamination in rivers and streams
- Average annual soil loss potential for soybean cropping is about twice those of corn cropping for all tillage methods
- Approximately 45% of corn and 30% of soybean production goes to ethanol and bio-diesel fuel.
- In 2017, Mason County 214 fewer residents’ principal employment was farming than in 1978
- Mason County had 2,549 fewer employed persons on May 1, 2023 than on July 1, 1999.
- Mason County’s population DECREASED by 7.6% from 1981 to 2021
- The percentage of that smaller population over 65, increased by 5% from 1981 to 2021
- The last Comprehensive Plan for Maysville/Mason County, Kentucky, listed “Inadequate sewage disposal in the rural areas of the County leading to pollution problems and possible health concerns” as the number one problem.
- Aging equipment and infrastructure combined with the need for delivering new technology to meet rising societal expectations demand significant expenditures.
- Large-scale solar can increase local tax districts’ revenue and help replace lost tobacco and dairy revenue
- Mason County has lost it’s transportation advantage
- The extensive electric transmission network in Mason County can generate income and tax revenue with no public capital investment.
Maysville and Mason County have been one of Northeastern Kentucky’s cultural centers for decades. Since Mason County’s permanent settlement in the late seventeen hundreds, each generation of rural and urban citizens has prospered by changing their business models to meet the market’s needs of their time.
The above facts demonstrate our generation faces a decision, Will we adapt and prosper by changing how we deliver value to pay for Maysville Mason County’s community facilities and services in 2033? Or will we model many other dying communities of Appalachia and focus on grants, all while deciding if the current services will last until you die?
Current Large-Scale Solar regulations are designed to discourage well-regulated solar from locating in our area. Our solar regulations should instead model the Kentucky Model Solar Ordinance. Doing so will:
- Protects our topsoil for future generations.
- Reduces chemical pollution in local watersheds.
- On rural land, large-scale solar arrays place little to no long-term burden on our local community facilities, including services and infrastructure
- Increase the real estate tax base to support local services.
- Increase the number of local high-value job opportunities.
- Helps replace the $64 million of lost tobacco and dairy income
- Protect the land from creeping urbanization
Solar can differentiate our business recruiting efforts. As of January 2020, nearly half of Fortune 500 companies have made public renewable energy, greenhouse gas (GhG), or energy efficiency commitments. 63% of the Fortune 100 companies have pledged to consume more electricity from renewable energy generators. Many companies are seeking rural areas with solar and wind production to support this pledge for their new headquarters and service centers. New solar projects could make Mason County an attractive location for these companies, bringing more skilled jobs and tax revenue for our community.
We must not let our inertia allow us to act like the folks in this cartoon.