Harvesting electricity from the sun is an excellent opportunity for Ohio farmers. Our son is the seventh generation to be farming with us in Union County. Over that time, we have been responsible stewards of the land – adapting to a changing climate, government regulations, and consumer demand.
Currently, we raise corn, soybeans, alfalfa grass mixes, wheat and milk about 85 cows. Clean, renewable energy is the latest “crop” we’ve considered, and after researching the pros and cons, having legal counsel, and confirming it was an environmentally responsible choice; we’ve decided to convert a portion of our farm to harvest solar power and provide electricity for central Ohio.
Increasing the diversity in Ohio’s energy portfolio to include sources such as wind, solar, and biomass energy can help ensure energy independence. Carbon sequestration farming programs are on the rise.
Ohio has the opportunity for great energy development and we need to be forward thinking and open minded.
Green energy has been under assault by backward-looking fossil fuel interests. Rather than embracing a diverse energy portfolio for Ohio, many in the coal and oil business finance campaigns to demonize clean energy and spread false conspiracy theories about windmills causing cancer and solar panels being harmful to the environment.
Property rights are a traditional life goal and a fundamental American liberty. Some people say windmills and solar panels are not a good use of our land. Some do not like slowing down and driving behind our implements as we navigate to farm and some do not care for the odor of manure our dairy produces. Like, most responsible farmers, we are mindful of mitigating negative environmental impacts, such as controlling runoff and limiting use of fertilizers and pesticides.
So, too, should we be expected to adhere to best practices for green energy installations. Local governments have a responsibility to make sure renewable energy projects are installed and maintained safely. They should not block local landowners and farmers who wish to harvest sun and wind power beside corn and beans.
The group we signed with has money in escrow to restore the land post solar. An initial question from them was for us to diagram where the tile is located so not to disturb. Low growing grasses will be planted to maintain the soil and allow it to have a resting period. Additionally, they are working with homeowners to create landscapes that will block the view of the panels if they are close to a homestead.
Union County is one of the fastest growing counties in our state, which brings not only more people, but more pollution and energy demand. This solar project is estimated to bring a $350 million investment into our county and state. Our small rural school will benefit and possibly save us from levy increases to fund ever increasing costs. The option of clean, renewable energy may allow us to meet those demands while making our beloved County more prosperous and healthier.
Tenah Ridge McMahan