Prime farmland or solar panels?

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APEX Clean Energy LLC entered Darke County in the fall of 2019 and quietly leased prime farmland in Greenville, Neave and Van Buren Townships, with the goal of installing solar panels.

No public information meeting was scheduled, alerting residents of the company’s intentions. APEX leased 2,400 acres of zoned farmland for industrial use. This equates to 4 square miles! Darke County is the second largest agricultural producer in the state of Ohio. Agriculture is essential to our economy and our way of life.

Darke County was once a swamp land. Our fields are heavily tiled to keep the water drained to allow the rich soil to be cultivated. Installing poles (which hold the solar panels) could upset the delicate balance of our underground tile network across townships and county. Any disruption to this drainage system, combined with rainwater runoff from solar panels, could create a much bigger problem, causing flooding to surrounding fields and residential homes.

Solar panels contain toxic chemicals. Extreme weather conditions such as straight line winds, hail, tornadoes or earthquakes could damage the panels. Broken or damaged panels could allow toxic chemicals to seep into the soil and residents’ water source. Many of these rented farms are located on or very close to the aquifer and resident wells.

We must protect our aquifer! The installation of solar panels would deprive prime, high-production agricultural land of production for 30 to 40 years. At present, there are no plans on how to dispose of damaged or worn toxic signs. This can pose a serious threat to the environment and further damage soil and water.

Solar panels are disrupting wildlife habitat, restrictions are placed on hunting in the area, and the panels could cause health problems for residents living nearby as solar panels create electromagnetic fields (EMFs).

The landscape of our community would be changed for generations. Once this process begins, it will continue to spread, of no value to the residents of Darke County. All electricity produced from solar panels will be sold as a commodity to the highest bidder.

I am not opposed to alternative sources of energy that do not affect our food, water and health. I am opposed to solar panels placed on prime agricultural land, in residential areas or near our aquifer.

Fran chrisman
Greenville, Ohio

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