Van Zandt Community Meeting with Solar Plant Representatives
This coming Thursday, January 17, 2019 at 7:00 p.m., an important meeting is being held at the Whitton Community Center, located at 10073 Fm 1651, Canton, TX 75103. This meeting, is between the local community, its leadership, and solar plant representatives. All are welcome to attend, as this is a county wide concern. After all, there are plans to expand this project into other areas of Van Zandt County.
The objective of the meeting is for the solar plant representatives to explain the project and address the community’s concerns. These concerns include environmental impact and the loss of land value to farms situated in proximity to the 964-acre proposed plant. In addition, the significant devaluation of surrounding farmland will consequently result in the loss of Van Zandt tax revenue. At one point the County Assessor’s office was tentatively estimating that 4.1 million in tax value could be impacted. In other words, the loss of tax revenue due to devalued farm and range land will impact the financing of our county budget. Tax revenues build, repair and maintain our roads, as well as fund our courts, jail, sheriff and other county services. Not to mention the loss of significant value to the land owners themselves.
Real-life Proves Environmental Impact
The environmental concerns are very real, and could change the well-being and value of the county and its land forever. As an example, below are links to articles documenting another real-life situation that is on-going in Essex County Virginia. The articles report on the environmental mess which that community is attempting to solve. Uncontrollable mud is running off an already established, operational, 200-acre Coronal Energy Essex Solar Center. The mud runoff is impacting streams, bogs, and roads. The EPA is investigating. Note that this mess is from 200 acres. The proposed project in Van Zandt county has 964 acres under lease.
Scientific Studies Prove Environmental Impact
Environmental impact goes well beyond mud runoff. There is a very real threat of toxic runoff as well. Scientific studies done in Germany and China show that the panels begin to decompose in the elements within months of installation. As rain runs over the panels, toxic metals such as cadmium and lead slowly leach out. These toxins can meet up with nearby ground water, ponds, watering holes, stock ponds and potentially the Wilcox Aquifer. An investigative article was published in our local online news, The Northeast Texan. In that article, those scientific studies were referenced, and included links to the articles that report the studies. What the Essex County situation in Virginia makes very clear, is that mud runoff can also convey those toxins toward lower elevations and water sources.
An additional environmental consideration is our weather. The lands under lease, on which they will build the solar plant, are just as susceptible to our yearly tornado and hail storms as anywhere else in Van Zandt county. A tornado, for example, touching down on a solar plant, could turn the glass panels and metal frames into deadly missiles. Under those circumstances, the panels could pose a significant threat to human and animal life for miles in every direction.
About the Meeting
Organizers ask attendees to be careful when parking at the community center and along the road. There will be extra parking at the Church of Christ and the Whitton Volunteer Fire Department. Head down FM 1651 until you find cars overflowing all three lots. The last meeting filled the room to standing-room capacity.
Due to the fact that this issue may not be resolved without legal assistance, Save Van Zandt County is holding a fundraising bake sale auction after the meeting. If you can bake, they are requesting you bring goodies. Either way, for this reason, bring your wallets. Mark Whitton has agreed to auction off your delicious desserts to help raise money.
David Dunagan reports that “the yard signs are in and they look GREAT!” He says that they have plenty of signs available, and are asking for a donation of $6.00 per sign to cover the cost of getting them made. A sign shop in Canton Texas, Two Hot Chics, was able to make the first batch of signs just in time for the meeting.
How to stay informed
Susan Skommesa is a freelance investigative reporter and editor with The Northeast Texan. Similarly, her many interests include research, public speaking, studying Biblical and Paleo-Hebrew, renovating houses, all things health and nutrition, knitting, homesteading, and teaching and writing on topics of faith, gardening, pets, chickens, and human interest.
Related Article: Solar Farm Installation: Will it Impact Van Zandt Landscape, Drain Tax Revenue, Threaten Aquifer?