Woodland, NC -- Nestled in a remote Northeast corner of the state, the town of Woodland is not known to many folks. However, after a recent and downright jaw-dropping council decision last week, their small town is about to be very well known.
A private solar company, Strata Solar, was looking to build a solar farm in the town because of the strategic location of vast swaths of unused land, located near an ideal electrical substation that would tie the system into the grid.
Strata is not the first company to seek out the town of Woodland for the placement of such a farm. In fact, a different company has already broke ground on the construction of another such solar farm.
Strata Solar was attempting to get a section of land rezoned at a council meeting last week, so they could begin construction on the new farm. However, residents showed up and voiced their opinions on the solar, and the council responded by denying the rezoning, and thereby denying the construction of the solar farm.
In a 3 to 1 vote, the council made the most ridiculous decision ever made by a government - and the residents couldn't be happier.
During the period for public comment, a science teacher, Jane Mann took to the podium to explain why she didn't want any solar in her town.
Jane Mann told the council that she is "concerned that photosynthesis, which depends upon sunlight, would not happen and would keep the plants from growing." She then went on to question the safety of the passive energy production of solar, citing a number of cancer deaths in the area.
"No one can tell me that solar panels don't cause cancer," asserted Mann.
After Jane Mann expressed her concern, her husband Bobby Mann took to the pulpit to drive home their case by saying the "solar farms would suck up all the energy from the sun and businesses would not come to Woodland."
“You’re killing your town,” he said. “All the young people are going to move out.”
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A representative from Strata Solar, likely in a state of awe, attempted to explain that “there are no negative impacts.” Beth Trahos explained to the council, "A solar farm is a wonderful use for a property like this.”
Another representative from Strata, Brent Niemann tried to explain that the solar panels don't actually "suck up" any extra sun, their function is purely passive and only use the light that hits them directly.
“The panels don’t draw additional sunlight,” Niemann noted. But the town's people weren't having any of it.
Niemann even went on to illustrate how the free energy from the sun would drastically reduce all of their power bills, but still they held out.
After the council voted to reject the rezoning and deny the solar farm production, they later voted for a moratorium on all future solar production as well, solidifying their place in history as the town that banned renewable energy.
Currently in North Carolina, much of their energy, as well of the rest of the nation's energy comes from coal-fired plants. The coal to fuel these plants is often stripped from the earth, in North Carolina, through a devastating process called mountaintop removal.
During mountaintop removal, explosives are used to remove up to 400 vertical feet of mountain to expose underlying coal seams. Excess rock and soil are then dumped into nearby valleys, in what are called "holler fills" or "valley fills, leading to a slew of negative environmental effects.
The process leaves the once lush green mountain area, a dead desert-like hole with permanent loss of ecosystems.
The process of destruction and adverse health effects from mountaintop removal can be viewed empirically and its atrocious effects are known most everyone. However, to the town of Woodland, North Carolina, it's solar that's dangerous.