Limestone Solar’s mailer

2560-T

Julie Burton Letter to the Editor

Aug 6, 2021 Ledger Independant

Evidence supporting Limestone Solar’s Mailer

Mailer Statment#1: “New 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,” Supporting evidence: 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 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. Read more

Burton’s claim #1: the new Hillcrest industrial solar facility in Mount Orab, Ohio, there were just five full-time jobs and five seasonal jobs created once the project was commissioned, according to the facility’s Operations Project Manager. REALITY: Consider the 1350 acre Hillcrest Solar farm near Mt Orab, OH. The University of Illinois estimates $48 of labor is needed to grow each acre of corn or soybeans. If all 1350 acres were in crops, that land required $64,800 of labor. Hillcrest’s payroll for their announced five full-time and five part-time employees will certainly exceed $64,800. Read More

Burton’s claim#2: companies wanting the Mason County renewable solar energy are signing Purchase Power Agreements (PPAs) for the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) … These companies are large corporations located out of state and have made no commitment to locate their facilities or operations in the county in which the energy is produced. REALITY: Electricity produces by Mason County Solar Farms will leave the county on the regional electrical grid. Just as we use to ship Mason County tobacco, dairy, V-Belt sheaves, and roller chain sprockets out of the county, if solar is allowed, we will ship out electricity. This is good because our local citizens need income to pay for products not made locally. See above for why new employers may move to Mason County. Read more

Mailer Statment#2: “6,000 acres is 3.8 percent of Mason County Total.” Supporting evidence: Because Solar farms do not require a perfectly level site, it seems appropriate to compare potential solar acreage and Mason County’s 158,712 farmland acres. Read more

Burton’s claim#3  Estimates are at 9,100 acres (and growing) where industrial solar facilities in Mason County are now being planned … (and) … will consume a significant percentage of our county’s most productive agricultural farmland. REALITY: 8% of Mason County farmland will support 12,000 acres of Solar. Over 30 years that 8% of farmland will contribute an additional $28,000,000 in real estate property taxes to our local tax districts. None of us can know the future but is there only so much prosperity some want to allow in Mason County when we remember that while each acre of Solar will protect topsoil, reduce ag chemical pollution, and help control stormwater, it does not consume farmland. Read more

Mailer Statment#3: “Solar will attract new clean energy-conscious industries.” Supporting evidence: See Mailer Statment#1 above

Burton’s claim#4: The solar energy produced will not benefit the local community … REALITY: Just as Mason County benefited when our burley tobacco was sold to buyers from outside our county. Solar farms that sell electricity to buyers outside our community will benefit Mason County in these ways

  • Income to landowners that weill help replace lost tobacco and dairy revenue
  • Real estate property tax revenue to local taxing district taxing districts. ($14 million for 5,000 acres over 30 years)
  • 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.

Read more

Mailer Statment#4: “Solar will not burden local utilities, highways or schools” Supporting evidence:  Solar farms do not require natural gas, city water, landfill capacity, rail, river, or extensive roads.  In Mt Orab OH only 5 full-time and 5 part-time jobs were added for a 1300 acre solar farm. Thus few extra students will be added to the school rolls.

Burton’s claim#5: Solar will add additional burden to local utilities … REALITY: The Kentucky Public Service Commission Siting board must approve each new Solar farm and considers exactly these types of impacts on existing utilities. In addition, a Solar farm must pass a utility’s inspection, much like any new building must pass an inspection, before a Solar farm can connect to an electric utility’s transmission line. Read more

Mailer Statment:#5 “Solar will stabilize the local farm economy” Supporting evidence: Both the landowners and the community need to replace income lost from tobacco and dairy. The sod under solar will reduce topsoil loss and ag chemical pollution. All these solar benefits are needed NOW! Read more

Burton’s claim#6:If .. ag land is no longer farmed, this will significantly impact local ag jobs …I REALITY: Consider the 1350 acre Hillcrest Solar farm near Mt Orab, OH. The University of Illinois estimates $48 of labor is needed to grow each acre of corn or soybeans. If all 1350 acres were in crops, that land required $64,800 of labor. Hillcrest’s payroll for their announced five full-time and five part-time employees will certainly exceed $64,800. Read More

Mailer Statment#6: “Solar will protect the quality of our watersheds” Supporting evidence: The same amount of rain falls whether the ground is pasture, row crop, or solar. However, Solar will have stormwater control structures. These structures and the sod in and around Solar panels will reduce soil erosion and flash flood danger. Read more

Burton’s claim:#7:Solar can potentially damage our watersheds… REALITY: Detailed stormwater control systems must be implemented for Kentucky PUC Siting board approval. Read more

Burton’s claim:#8 “… Current land drainage patterns will be significantly and adversely altered as a result of the changes in topography that will happen when grading (removal and displacement of topsoil) is performed …” REALITY: Because moving soil is expensive, a developer strives to reduce the amount of soil moved. Read more

Burton’s claim:#9 Minimal setbacks will hinder correction and/or mediation measures for drainage and runoff. REALITY: If Mason County adopts something close to the Kentucky Model Solar Zoning regulation then each Solar farm will be a conditional use. This will ensure that each Solar farm is judged on how well it is screened from neighbors, protects nearby noise-sensitive areas, and is generally a good neighbor. This will be far superior to trying to apply one set of rules without considering each solar farm’s environment. Read more

Burton’s claim#10: Solar panels can also contain toxic chemicals like cadmium, lead, silicon tetrachloride, and copper indium selenide that can easily leach into soil and groundwater, and contaminate local aquifers. REALITY:

  • The most commonly utilized solar technologies use inert materials found at every building site including silicon (glass), aluminum (frame) and copper (wiring). Read more
  • Solar energy systems may contain small amounts of toxic materials, but these materials are stable and do not endanger public health. Read more
  • The cadmium in cadmium telluride (CdTe) PV panels is a non-soluble material; which is very stable. Read more

Mailer Statment#7: “Solar will move Mason County forward while conserving our land” Supporting evidence: Sod under and around Solar protects topsoil and our environment.  Read more 

Burton’s claim#11: “… Once the land is repurposed for solar generation, there are no guarantees that at the end of the short life cycle of solar generation, the land can be or will be restored back to its original state of being productive agricultural land … ” REALITY: If Mason County adopts a solar zoning regulation based on the Kentucky Model Solar Zoning Ordinance then it will have these requirements for issuing the Solar Farm’s conditional use permit.

  1. The anticipated life of project and and defined conditions upon which decommissioning will be initiated;
  2. The estimated decommissioning cost, updated every 5 years.
  3. The manner in which the project will be decommissioned
  4. The parties responsible for decommissioning
  5. A performance bond, letter of credit, or other financial assurance payable to either the City of Maysville or the Mason County Fiscal Court sufficient to cover the net costs identified to assure that decommissioning of the site can be achieved by a third party in the event that a permittee defaults in that obligation

These requirements assure reclamation. Read more

Mailer Statment#4: “Revenue on 6,000 acres for 30 years” Supporting evidence: See detailed explanation of calculations

Burton’s claim#12: “There are no firm 30-year commitments being made. …” REALITY: While I can not speak to all solar options if my option is exercised the lease term is for a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of 45 years. It seems reasonable to use 30 years for the calculations as that is the mid-point of the possible lease term.

Burton’s claim#13: “The math and tax laws do not support the dollar amount of the claims made of increased tax revenues from solar generation” REALITY: The tax calculations are based on the guidance of the KY Department of Revenue. I also confirmed these calculations with the Mason County PVA. I welcome anyone to point out in detail any errors they see in these calculations, rather than challenging them without explaining their concern. See detailed explanation of calculations 

Charles W(Bill) Marshall – Walnut Grove Farm – Washington KY