Cost to Tax Base and Homeowner Equity
In a recent study by Vasundhara Gaur and Corey Lang of the Department of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics at University of Rhode Island, “PROPERTY VALUE IMPACTS OF COMMERCIAL-SCALE SOLAR ENERGY IN MASSACHUSETTS AND RHODE ISLAND”, Corey Lang, associate professor of natural resource economics, and doctoral student Vasundhara Gaur found that prices of homes within a mile of a solar installation declined by 1.7%. Homes within a tenth of a mile went down by 7%. They did not stipulate direct abutters, but we could surmise greater than 10%. That is both a significant impact upon property owners and a significant impact on the cumulative tax base.
The paper states some of the largest impacts were in suburban communities when a solar project was built on a farm or forested property, “In those non-rural areas there aren’t many large blocks of farmland or forestland,” Lang said. “It’s a scarce resource. When that’s developed into solar, it’s felt by the community. You’re losing green space and also adding an industrial viewscape.”
While the support of renewable energy is commendable, PRRS believes it should have caps, have specific density requirements, and should have appropriate buffers to screen the solar field.
Read URI's full study here.
Progressive ordinances speak to scenic vistas (viewsheds), preservation of cultural and historic sites, and control the growth of solar within the community.
They address conservation easements, public land, and the importance of addition street set-backs.
None of those protections exist in the proposed Portsmouth ordinance.
Leaching of Hazardous Toxins
As an old farming community there are a number of toxins in our soil. Anytime we cut down natural habitat whether a woodland habitat or disturb an open grassland habitat there are hard metals and arsenic within our soil.
Many ordinances restrict the removal of topsoil, and seek enhanced environmental review on stormwater run-off.
This should be a continuous process for the life of the solar farm.
In addition, solar panels are often soldered with lead joints which have been known to leach into surrounding soil.
Its hard to fathom the industrial nature of this eco-energy, but the sites themselves are not environmentally friendly.