Letter: Solar energy has economic, environmental benefits

From: Cathy Caldie


Clean solar energy is a great economic and environmental benefit to Indiana by providing jobs, conserving energy and protecting our health due to fewer respiratory problems from not using fossil fuels.

Choices made by elected officials and residents continue to baffle me as to how much fact-finding goes into decisions that affect our health and well-being. Why deny a solar farm without researching resident concerns and approve the most lenient concentrated animal feeding operation regulations on record in the state after being presented with research data about the adverse affects of thousands of pigs? Let’s compare the issues.

Sound: Our home has 14 solar panels, and for years we haven’t heard a peep, hum, squeal or snort out of them. High power voltage lines, substations and fluorescent bulbs all emit a humming noise — all located near houses. Compare the sound of 2,000 to 4,000 pigs near your home, school or church. Modern transformerless inverters and solar modules do not emit sound. Our neighbors have never complained about an odor coming from our panels either.

Birds: A bird has never flown into our solar panels, but many have died flying into our windows. Statistically, more birds die by hitting windows than any other cause.

Water and bad weather: Our solar panels were fine after the last hailstorm. Roofs and cars will be damaged while solar panels are made to withstand adverse weather. A solar energy “spill” is known as a sunny day. Solar panels produce power without moving parts and no worry of water issues. CAFO contamination of groundwater, wells and streams is well-documented. Approval of a CAFO by beautiful Anderson Falls is disturbing. What about the health of Bartholomew County residents and our environment?

Sight: Acres of solar panels generating power for thousands of homes can be seen by motorists driving by the entry to the Indianapolis airport. Many military bases also see the economic, environmental and security benefits of clean solar energy. Would neighbors here rather look at a CAFO operation?

Economic benefits: Solar panels increased the property value of our home. We received a 30 percent federal tax credit, too. Most months, we produce more energy than we use, making utility bills low. The extra power generated is utilized by our neighbors, and very little power is lost to the grid compared to traditional electricity. Clean energy reduces our dependence on coal, reduces respiratory problems and is viable in Indiana. A CAFO benefits who in the county?

County officials deny a solar farm on the same day due to a petition of 65 signatures. Doesn’t renewable energy deserve some research, too, like the CAFO issue? Thousands of residents would have signed a petition to deny the current CAFO regulations.

Education is the key to making good, data-driven decisions that will benefit our community and provide a sustainable future for our children. Let’s head in the right direction in Columbus and in the county.