Let’s consider Mr. Boyd’s points in order.

  • Will agriculture be able to feed future population growth.
  • Taking farmland out of production
  • 10,000 – 20,000 acres of solar in Mason County
    • First would it be great to:
      • Inject that much economic activity into our County.
        • The almost toal loss of tobacco and dairy significantly reduced agriculture’s ability to bring outside money into our area.
        • Solar can replace that lost revenue. More acres means more revenue and more protected topsoil along with reduced ag chemical pollution.
        • Unlike the rock in the local Carmuse limestone mine, selling solar elecricity will not deplete a finite resource. (If the sun goes out, life on earth as we know it ends.)
      • In addition to the landowner’s income,
        • solar will also increase area emplyment.
          • Dramitically during the one year constructin phase
          • Solar is mostly slated to replace row crops and cow-calf operations. Row crops are highly mechanized with low labor requirements per acre. While cow-calf operations have concentrated activity, overall they require little full-time labor. The Hillcrest Solar Farm demonstrates that Solar supports more jobs per acre. Read more
          • Dramitically during the decommissioning phase (A bond will be posted before construction begins to pay for deconstruction.)
        • Local tax districts will typically receive $244.38 from one acre of Solar, compared to the $7.58 per acre average farmland now contributes.
          • This 3124% increase can have this result when considered over the 30-year life, if 6,000 acres, less than 4% of Mason County’s farmland, is Solar . (2 significant digits displayed) See detailed explanation of calculations
    • Second Mason County does not currently have enough transmission capacity to move between 2,000 and 4,000 Mw of power out of the area. (The range is whether the 20,000 Acres averages needing 5 or 10 acres to produce each solar Mw.)
      • For context J.M. Stuart Station was a 2.3-gigawatt (2,318 MW) coal power plant.
      • The EKP Spurlock Station is expected to stay on line for decades and so its output will continue to consume a significant portion of the local tranmission capacity.
      • The majority of J. M. Stewart power moved north into central Ohio and so it closure did not free up significant Mason County transmisison capacity .
      • Each long distance electric tranmission line has a finite capacity. That capacity can be consummed by connectioning a solar farm anywhere along its length. As Mason County delays connecting solar farms, our tranmission lines’ capacity may be consumed by solar farms in other locales.
      • Establishing additional long-distance electric transmission infrastructure is very expensive. Availability of nearby transmission capacity is a prime factor determining a solar farm’s financial viability.
      • For these reasons Mason County cannot, in the near future, transmit the power from 20,000 acres of solar.
  • Why not just use existing roof tops to capture solar power
    • While nothing stops small scale solar intallations on rooftops, each solar Mw requires 5 to 10 acres of panels.
    • The logistics and economics of connecting hundreds of acres of roof tops are not viable.
  • Why not limit power to strip mines and other brownfields
    • Capturing solar power in Mason County does not reduce the ability to also capture it on a strip mine elsewhere.
    • As stated above, the primary constraint to a solar farm is capacity availability in nearby electric transmission lines.
    • As the least-cost source of electricity, the demand for solar power is almost limitless.
  • Why not put all solar in West?
    • The energy losses incurred by tranmaissed electricity over thousands of miles make the effort uneconomical .
    • The USA is divided into regional electric grids. Mason County is multiple regions from the West. 
    • Mason Conty needs a product we can sell outside our county so we can pay for all the things we want to purchase that are not produced inside our county.
  • Claim: Solar acres removed from production agriculture will cripple the local economy and population.
    • Reality as shown above is that solar has many benefits for local economy and ecology.
    • When I was a child in the 1950s,
      • Washington KY had three “general” stores,
      • Mason County had
        • several dealerships where one could purchase new farm equipment and their parts
        • several feed mills
        • three tobacco redryers, multiple green prizes and at least 18 tobacco warehouses
      • Maysville had two companys that puchased milk
    • Now, of all of those, there is one feed mill still operating. That feed mill survived and prospered by adapting to fufill ever changing market needs, not by trying to do things the way they did the year before.
    • Mason county land uses must do the same. Those successful in one enterprise often fail to appreciate the opportunities others can find with different land uses. Allowing some to adopt solar in no way prevent others from continuing in their current land uses.

Yes, solar is a new enterprise, but close examination shows it will help Mason County have a better ecological and financial future. That, not the number of generations anyone has been on their land, must govern our decisions about solar’s future in Mason County.

Mr. Boyd’s Letter to the Editor text

Protect The Farmers

Dear editor,

Nine billion, nine billion people is what the world population is expected to be by year 2050.
Agricultural production will have to increase 60-70 percent from current levels to meet the demand. In the coming years it won’t be our energy or our technology that is the focal point of society, but it’ll be our food.

I’m up for the challenge, what about you? We have a huge obstacle though. Taking prime farmland out of production makes this task increasingly challenging, if not impossible.

The 10,000-20,000 plus acres in mason county currently under contract for industrial solar development represent the best farmland in a 30 mile radius. I don’t have a problem with renewable energy, it most definitely has a place. Such as roof tops of buildings, on old reclaimed strip mines, in the dessert and overall on unproductive land in areas that receive maximum sunlight. This area doesn’t fit any of those descriptions, but it does appeal to energy company’s as an easy place to acquire land in order to suit their primary objectives of taking advantage of green energy credits and government subsidies.

If 10,000-20,000 plus acres of production agriculture is taken from Mason county it will cripple the local economy and population. Agriculture is the lifeline of small communities and has been since the inception of this country. Countless businesses and services in Mason County depend on the millions of dollars in revenue generated by local farms.

Agriculture has proven to be a sustainable and profitable enterprise for those that have been willing to adapt and adopt cutting edge technologies. Production agriculture isn’t an easy way of life, but it’s one of the most essential and rewarding professions tasked with feeding not only the USA, but now the world.

Solar isn’t farming, it’s an industrial power plant and in this case on land best suited for food production. There’s one thing the Good Lord isn’t making any more of and that’s prime farmland. Please don’t send us young farmers packing, we love it here and would be humbled to have the opportunity to do our part in making Mason County an essential player in feeding the nine billion.

Sincerely, Blake Boyd Fifth Generation Mason County Farmer