To the editor: The Public Service Commission's recent public hearing on the proposed Morgnec Road Solar project was dominated by a small group of aligned 70-something retirees and large local landholders who, while giving gratuitous lip service to the merits of solar power, are nevertheless, determined to prevent installation of utility scale solar power in Kent County regardless of the public, economic and environmental benefits of doing so.
Project opponents enjoined our commissioners and Chestertown's mayor and council to oppose the project on the specious, unsupportable grounds that the privately-owned land on which the solar project is to be sited needs to be indefinitely impounded because “it’s the only place that Chestertown can expand into.”
That’s pure malarkey.
First, Kent County’s significant population decline since 2010, the corresponding decline in our high school population, the acres of in-town land that have gone unsold for years, the hundreds of acres of developable land surrounding Chestertown that are far more suited to future residential and retail commercial development than the already industrialized area around the proposed solar project site and the inadequacy of current property and business tax revenue to fund Chestertown's existing infrastructure maintenance and development needs all auger against any foreseeable expansion of Chestertown’s existing borders down Morgnec Road.
Second, project opponents’ insistence that 250 acres of the 91% of total county land currently zoned for agriculture mustn't be used to house the addition of utility scale solar energy to our local electric power generation capability denies both our environment and every resident who can’t afford the thousands it costs to install solar power in their homes or businesses the benefits of supplementing our polluting fossil fuel powered electric service with clean, inexhaustible solar power.
In the face of potentially catastrophic effects of climate change on our coastline and weather, refusal to allow a private owner to lease their land to install local utility scale solar energy generation capability is inexcusably shortsighted.
Our local government owes it to county residents and their children to welcome the $80 million in private capital that will fully fund the introduction of local utility scale solar power service, fund 50 well-paying jobs needed for project construction and create 250 screened acres of pollinator-friendly meadowland underplanting the solar panel array that will help replenish pollinator and bird populations decimated by local agrichemical proliferation, deforestation and mono-crop farming practices.
It's time for Kent County government to stop resisting positive change and take action that will directly benefit and enable our community to play a contributing role in addressing regional climate change issues.
An opportunity like this isn't likely to come our way again.