Reasons Solar Farms Should NOT Be Allowed in Spencer County

Reasons “Solar Farms” should not be allowed close to Residential Neighborhoods.

1: Solar Panels have been known to CAUSE fires. (See attachment 1a, 1b, 1c. 1d)

2: Solar Panels are known to contain Toxic Chemicals that can be distributed into the atmosphere and/or ground water in the event they are damaged due to a storm or fire.
(See attachment 2a)

3: Solar Farm Installations have been sued by the government for causing erosion. (See attachment 3a

4: The U.S.A does NOT maintain records on the number of fires caused or involving Solar Panel Fires. (See attachment 4a)

5: Firemen, including small town volunteer firemen need special equipment and training in order to deal with fires involving solar panels. (See attachment 5a)

6: The U.S.A. is slow to respond, announce and enforce recalls involving solar panel components, especially anything that could cause fires. (See attachment 6a, 6b)

7: The U.S.A. does not currently have a program on how damaged and outdated solar panels containing toxic chemicals will be disposed of. (See attachment 7a)

8: Trees should NEVER be cut down to make room for Solar Panels.(See attachment shades

9: Farms, Food, wildlife habitat and human safety should always be more important then Solar Farms. (See attachment 9a)

• Amazon had Solar Panels start a fire on one of their buildings.
• Walmart Had Solar Panels Start Fires at 7 U.S. Locations
and ONE of those fires started months after the panel was de-energized.

In 2019, Walmart settled a lawsuit (for an undisclosed amount) that was filed after 7 of their stores caught on fire, BECAUSE of Solar Panels mounted on their roof. Including one case where the panels had already been de-energized.

Solar Farm Burned 1,127 Acres
It Was Partially funded by a $1.24 Billion Loan Guarantee from the U.S. Energy Department.

60 Acre Solar Farm Fire Prevents Fire Fighters Access To Flames:
On August 27, 2019, there was a fire on a 60 acre solar farm in the city of Pittsburg, California, close to residential and business areas. During the fire, the firefighter were informed the solar panels were energized and high risk, thus preventing them from getting under the panels.
Insurance Report On Solar Panel Fires
A 2018 UK government report, which investigated 80 solar panel fires, found that 58 instances were caused by the photovoltaic system itself. The study notes that some of these fires took place in buildings, while others occurred on solar farms.
The majority of these fires originated in DC isolators with “the most likely cause of fire as electrical arcing”. Electrical arcing is the electrical breakdown of a gas that produces a prolonged electrical discharge leading to combustion. Effectively, the fire will start by a live wire sending electricity into the air. The temperature of an arc flash can reach several thousands of degrees Celsius.
Hazardous materials used in the semi-conductor industry, such as silicon, boron, phosphorus, cadmium, tellurium, arsenic, and gallium, are used in the construction of PV (Solar Panel) modules and components.

In PV modules these materials are sealed between the top layer of glass and the plastic backing of the module, and then are encased in an aluminum frame.

When the PV system is operating under normal conditions, these chemicals do not constitute a hazard. However, during a fire involving PV modules or components, or the adjacent areas around the modules or components, the aluminum frame can become deformed or melt, exposing the hazardous chemicals to direct flame and/or significant heat.

The exposure to flame and heat will cause the materials to dissipate in the smoke plume, constituting an inhalation hazard to Firefighters without breathing apparatus, as well as people standing near the fire building and in the path of the plume.

State Sues Solar Farm Developer For Pollution
On April 28, 2020, the Massachusetts Attorney General filed a lawsuit against a Solar Farm Developer alleging “irreparable harm” caused by the polluting of a River and damage to protected wetlands.

The lawsuit claims the solar developer violated Federal and State water protection laws during the construction of an 18.5 acre solar farm.

Stormwater pollution is regulated under a variety of federal Clean Water Act permits and is recognized as the largest threat to water quality. By not having the legally required storm-water controls, the construction caused “sediment-laden storm-water to erode the hillside, effecting perennial and intermittent streams, uprooting trees and covering more then an acre of new sediment pollution in the river, thus causing irreparable damage to the river.
While other countries track fires involving solar panel fires, it seems like the United States does not.
The only information we could even find relating to solar panel fires is a column from a magazine, stating there is no information available on the number of fires within the U.S.
“Per a conversation between pv magazine USA, and the National Fire Data Center, there is no information available on the number of fires from solar power systems, rooftop or ground. The group says, that they don’t have a code for it yet so they don’t track it, meaning these events end up in a very large “other” category. The National Fire Protection Association does have a solar photovoltaics safety related page.”

Solar Panel Hazardous Material Inhalation Danger.
Hazardous materials such as silicon, boron, phosphorus, cadmium, tellurium, arsenic, and gallium, are used in the construction of PV (Solar Panel) modules and components.

During a fire, the exposure to flame and heat will cause the materials to dissipate in the smoke plume, constituting an inhalation hazard to Firefighters without breathing apparatus, as well as people standing near the fire building and in the path of the plume.

It Took 5 Years For Solar Panel Inverters To Be Recalled Due To Fire Hazards: They were made in China and installed on buildings in the U.S.

On February 7, 2019, the United State Consumer Product Safety Commission lists a Recall of Solar Inverters (they convert DC power to AC power) due to Fire and Impact Hazards, claiming the capacitors can fail and allow heat to build up, posing fire and impact hazards.

BP Solar and Home Depot settled a class action lawsuit by offering a $45.33 Million common fund plus another $20 million in a separate fund involving “solar junction box failures” causing burn marks, shattered glass and potential fire hazard.

End Of Life Management of PV Solar Panels Containing Hazardous Waste
While we were able to locate State Regulations and foreign regulations for the End of Life Management of Solar Panels that contain Toxic Waste, as of January of 2020, we could not find any Federal Standard within the U.S.A., or requirement for end-of-life management of photovoltaic panels that meet the standards for hazardous waste.


Chinese and Japanese experts agree. “If a recycling plant carries out every step by the book,” a Chinese expert told The South China Morning Post, “their products can end up being more expensive than new raw materials.”

California is in the process of determining how to divert solar panels from landfills, which is where they currently go, at the end of their life.

Solar panels often contain lead, cadmium, and other toxic chemicals that cannot be removed without breaking apart the entire panel. “Approximately 90% of most PV modules are made up of glass,” notes San Jose State environmental studies professor Dustin Mulvaney. “However, this glass often cannot be recycled as float glass due to impurities. Common problematic impurities in glass include plastics, lead, cadmium and antimony.”
The fact that cadmium can be washed out of solar modules by rainwater is increasingly a concern for local environmentalists like the Concerned Citizens of Fawn Lake in Virginia, where a 6,350 acre solar farm to partly power Microsoft data centers is being proposed.
“We estimate there are 100,000 pounds of cadmium contained in the 1.8 million panels,” Sean Fogarty of the group told me. “Leaching from broken panels damaged during natural events — hail storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. — and at decommissioning is a big concern.”  
There is real-world precedent for this concern. A tornado in 2015 broke 200,000 solar modules at southern California solar farm Desert Sunlight.
"Any modules that were broken into small bits of glass had to be swept from the ground," Mulvaney explained, "so lots of rocks and dirt got mixed in that would not work in recycling plants that are designed to take modules. These were the cadmium-based modules that failed [hazardous] waste tests, so were treated at a [hazardous] waste facility. But about 70 percent of the modules were actually sent to recycling, and the recycled metals are in new panels today."
And when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last September, the nation’s second largest solar farm, responsible for 40 percent of the island’s solar energy, lost a majority of its panels.

With the average lifespan of a solar panel at roughly 20 years, installations from the early 2000s are set to reach end-of-life.

Will they end up in landfill or be recycled? The cost of recycling is higher than landfill, and the value of recovered materials is smaller than the original, so there’s limited interest in recycling. But given the presence of heavy metals, if waste is managed poorly, we’re on track for another recycling crisis.

It is expected that more than 100,000 tons of solar panels will enter Australia’s waste stream by 2035. Is this a crisis or an opportunity? If you look up solar panel recycling in Australia, there are a number of services. However, mostly they can recycle less than 20% by weight – the aluminum frame and the terminal boxes. Recycling the remaining 80%, including the precious silicon, is not currently offered in Australia

"A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 pounds per year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support two human beings."
One mature leafy tree can produce as much oxygen in one season as 10 people inhale in one year and trees also help to cool the entire planet through water evaporation as well as offering shade in a local area.
One acre of fully grown trees can absorb as much Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere in one year as a car would produce when driven 26, 000 miles.

"On average, one tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year. Two mature trees can provide enough oxygen for a family of four."

As the world’s population continues to grow the demand for food is expected to increase by more than 50% in the next 30 years.

Farms Inspire People

Farmers have shaped and maintained the unique look of rural areas for millennia. Farms create a wonderful variety of landscapes, ranging from beautiful blossoming orchards and vineyards to fields of golden wheat.

And it is not only the 45.7% of people worldwide that live in the countryside [2] that enjoy it, but the rest of population living in urban areas enjoy agricultural landscapes as a place to reconnect with nature.

Example: Would you prefer to drive down the Interstate and look at tall security fences blocking the view of any houses, or would you rather drive down some country back road and look at all of the green fields, rolling hills, rivers and lakes?

I personally do not know of one Federal Park where people will drive hundreds of miles to see a field of glass and metal solar panels, instead of the mountains, valleys, lakes and forests.

Farming Creates Habitats

Agricultural systems that work in harmony with nature create diverse natural habitats.
For example, open meadows are important for species like waterfowl, amphibians and pollinators.
Some species even increase in number due to farming.

One such species is the North American White-Tailed Deer, which does very well in open farm field habitat.

Agriculture sequesters carbon

As with any other plants, growing crops, add oxygen to the atmosphere, as plants photosynthesize and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The richer the plant cover is, the more it uses carbon dioxide to support its life functions.
Carbon is also sequestered by soils, which have a natural carbon carrying capacity and carbon can be reduced even by a livestock farm.
Agriculture retains soil and prevents erosion

Loss of soils is one of the biggest threats to our well being. Vegetation with deep roots helps to hold the soil together and prevent erosion.
This is especially the case when farmers have constructed swales or “Dry Dams” as the old time farmers called them. The idea behind them is to build a horizontal bunker out of rocks and dirt to deflect excessive amounts of rain water coming down a hillside and washing the soil away from around their crops such as dry dams and other types of earthworks that help to stabilize steep slopes.

Agriculture has a role in the water cycle

Plants and trees in agricultural systems help to retain and add water to underground aquifers. This process is most effective when the crops being grown are perennials that continue to grow every year and have deep, well-established root systems.

A successful strategy applied by our ancestors is to plant trees, bushes and grasses mixed together. By combining plants of different sizes, soils are evenly covered and can withstand torrential rains without being washed away. This improves soil structure and enables rainwater infiltration.

Once water enters the soil, it passes through different soil layers getting rid of pollutants until it reaches groundwater reservoirs clean and safe for us to drink.

Examples of some perennial plants grown on farms are alfalfa, fruit trees, olive trees, berries and grapes. Together, they act as an important buffer, preventing flooding, reducing water pollution from runoff and preventing erosion, while providing us with food.
Agriculture can conserve water

Modern farming methods such as strip or no-till, dry farming and planting of cover crops significantly reduce the need to irrigate. According to researchers from UC Davis, cover crops such as rye on organic farms are able to retain 50% more rainwater and reduce surface runoff by 35%.