To the editor:

Now more than ever, we see how misinformation can spread more quickly than scientific fact. I was dismayed to read in the May 14 edition about some concerns regarding solar in Louisa County. Most of the issues raised are either irrelevant to Virginia, unsupported or even contradicted by several scientific studies.

First, the author will be pleased to learn that no solar project in Virginia will use reflective mirrors. This experimental technology was deployed in the West over a decade ago and was determined to be less economically viable compared to photovoltaic panels.

An exhaustive meta-study by North Carolina State University concluded that “photovoltaic panels and inverters are not known to pose any significant health dangers to their neighbors … the overall impact of solar development on human health is overwhelmingly positive.”

I encourage interested neighbors to review the research collected by NCSU, which thoroughly examines the health and safety of solar photovoltaics.

Second, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and Department of Environmental Quality enforce national standards on panel technology, safeguarding against any adverse wildlife or health impacts. Solar projects must go through an extensive permitting process involving several state and local agencies in order to get approved. During construction, they are closely monitored by public agencies to minimize impacts to the surrounding ecosystem.

Solar facilities can support the local agricultural ecosystem by planting native Virginia grasses, creating beneficial habitats for birds and wildlife including pollinators.

Finally, by deploying solar in Louisa County, we reduce our need to build more fossil generators, like the natural gas turbines in Gordonsville. Our children will not be subjected to the air and water pollutants from coal and gas, but rather enjoy the tax benefits from these local solar projects.

Rachel Smucker

Virginia Policy and Development Manager, Maryland/DC/Virginia-Solar Energy Industry Association

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