NC town rejects solar farm; concerns about sucking energy from sun

A small town in North Carolina has voted for a moratorium on solar farms after a hearing where citizens raised numerous concerns, including the potential that the farms would "suck up all the energy from the sun."

The News-Herald reports that the town council voted 3-1 against a proposal to rezone land for a solar farm.  The council had previously approved three other projects.

The paper says citizens expressed distrust and fear of the solar panels.

One former science teacher was concerned that nearby plants would not get sunlight and the potential the solar farm could cause cancer.

The local newspaper in Woodland reports one resident worried that solar panels would keep the vegetation from growing, and another resident reportedly feared that solar farms would suck up all the energy from the sun.

The town council in Woodland voted to put up a roadblock to future solar farms, but the opposite is happening in the Charlotte region. Duke Energy just announced plans to build a solar farm in Union County near Monroe.

Randy Wheeless with Duke Energy said, “I think our customers are wanting more renewable energy, and renewable energy over the past few years has come down in price, so it's actually not that uneconomical as it was maybe 10-20 years ago.”

And unlike in Woodland, the solar farm in Union County seems to be welcomed. Resident Roger Stakey said, “Hell, I think it'd be great. They're (solar farms are) quieter than anybody else. Solar or graveyard would be the best two neighbors.”

Starkey thinks this is only the beginning of solar energy development in the area where he lives and farms. He said, “And I think you're going to see more and more of it all the time.”

The Solar Energy Industries Association ranks North Carolina second in the United States in the amount of "solar electric capacity installed in 2014." Construction on the solar farm in Union County is expected to start in March and be finished by the end of the year.