Questions raised at the June 2 Maysville Mason County Planning meeting

  • Who will buy the power from solar farms
    • The power will be sold onto the “grid” and from there its ultimate destination may change from minute to minute.
  • Is it a bad thing that power will be consumed outside of the local area?
    • No that is the modern economic system. Our area did not use all of the
      • Burley tobacco produced in our area
      • V-Belt sheaves produced by Browning
      • Milk produced by local farmers
      • Corn and Soybean grown in our area
      • Beef raised on local farms
      • And the list goes on
  • Will Solar destroy prime farmland?
    • Kentucky Agricultural Statistics 2018 Annual Bulletin estimates Mason County’s annual cash rent for cropland was $88 / acre, while pasture was $25/ acre. Mason County’s average property tax on an agricultural acre is $8.56. So after property taxes ($25 – $8.56) the landowner only has $16.44/acre for maintenance, insurance, and debt service before any hope of profit. Cattlemen are hard-pressed to pay more due to frequent dramatic swings in cattle and feed prices, along with livestock mortality. Cattle’s waste can infiltrate our groundwater unless carefully managed. Livestock on wet sod eventually leads to soil erosion. All this makes cow-calf a land use with significant environmental risk and little ability to provide economic support to the local economy. 
    • Cash grain generate more cash flow however the narrow, erratic margins in corn/soybeans push farmers to plant increasing acreage. Continuous cash grain rotations reduce the topsoil’s organic matter and accelerate soil erosion. Chemicals applied to row crop fields may contaminate our watersheds.
    • While current land-use alternatives erode topsoil and contaminate our watersheds, solar does neither. In fact, the sod under solar panels will help restore our environment and support our local tax districts.
  • How many acres of solar farms may locate in Mason County?
    • While interest in Solar continues to grow, 6000 acres is the highest estimate, I have heard anyone make if all currently discussed projects should be developed.   To keep that in context that would only be 4% of Mason Counties Farmland but it would make this contribution to local tax districts.

See detailed explanation of calculations

This added revenue, to our local tax districts, can support improved community services and/or reduced taxes on the rest of Mason County taxpayers.

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. To support this pledge, many companies are seeking rural areas with solar and wind production for their new headquarters and service centers. New wind and solar projects could make Mason County an attractive location for these companies, which could, in turn, bring more skilled jobs and tax revenue for our community.

Local vendors and hundreds of construction workers will be needed during solar’s installation phase.  Operation of Solar farms requires more and better paid local workers than if similar acreage is used for cow-calf and cash grain operations.