By Esther Fultz
Renewable energy has been a hot topic in recent years. Specifically relevant to small, rural towns like Cedarville, Ohio is the move toward solar energy. Since 2016, multiple solar companies have been requesting to lease land from local farm owners for the purpose of establishing solar farms. This request has been met with a great deal of controversy.
Cedarville farmer Joe Krajicek opposes the solar project and declined an offer to lease 50 acres of land to one of these companies.
“It’s not that I’m against solar,” Krajicek explained. “In the right place for the right reasons, it’s perfect. I’m just looking for a more responsible solar.”
Krajicek and an association of like-minded farmers called Citizens for Greene Acres has been researching solar for several years now. Concerns found by the group include water runoff issues, contaminated wells, and chemicals used in the panels.
According to Krajicek’s research, solar panels are not as environmentally friendly as they are often presented. The process of making them is largely driven by fossil fuels.
“What’s driving most of the renewable energy industry right now is actually the tax credits and subsidies from the state and federal government,” Krajicek said. “It’s about green dollars, not green energy.”
Dr. Bob Paris, Cedarville farmer and associate professor of Biology at Cedarville University, shares many of Krajicek’s concerns.
“We’re not going to see any benefit here from this energy being produced,” Paris said. “If it cut everybody’s electric bill by 10% that would be different.”
Krajicek and Paris both expressed concerns about the reliability of the companies involved in the solar project.
“We’re pushing ahead with something that has had a pretty bleak track record,” Paris explained. “A lot of these places go out of business and then there’s no real way for the landowners to get their money. They might potentially have to clean it out, which would cost quite a bit.”
In addition to environmental and financial concerns, going through with the solar project would drastically change the day to day life of many Cedarville residents. Even if just some farmers decide to lease land to the company, everyone is affected.
“People who move here for the school system or to teach at the university often end up deciding to stay here after retirement,” Krajicek said. “They’re building their forever home, and now all of a sudden, they change the zoning laws and an industrial solar facility is allowed to come in and be neighbors with them.”
For Cedarville farmers, the farmland that would be destroyed due to this project is more than just farmland, it’s part of who they are.
“It’s difficult to explain to people, but the connection a farmer has with his land is a really powerful thing,” Paris explained. “Most farmers consider themselves stewards of the land. When the farm has been in the family for five generations, it’s not just a matter of looking at the bank account and saying, let’s do this.”
For Krajicek, opposing the project is about being a good neighbor.
“You have to think about how it’s going to affect the community, if I would want someone to do that to me,” said Krajicek. “There are lots of other places that they could tuck the panels away, places where it doesn’t adjoin someone’s property and ruin their view.”
Paris also emphasized the significance of relationships in this debate and expressed concern over the controversy’s potential to sever relationships between Cedarville residents.
“It’s a tough thing for the community to go through,” Paris said. “A lot of friendships have already been severed, and regardless of what ends up happening, I don’t know how easily that’s going to be repaired.”
Esther Fultz is a sophomore Social Work major and an Off-Campus and On-Campus writer for Cedars. She enjoys writing songs, spending time outdoors, drinking coffee, and hanging with friends.
1 Reply to "The Proposition of a Solar Farm is Attracting an Energetic Debate"
Joe Krajicek November 11, 2021 (5:03 pm)
First I want to thank Esther Fultz for contacting me so I could express my opinion and thoughts on what very few people are aware of potentially happening to our area we cherish. When we describe our area to others that may not be familiar of it we reference things like over there close to the Historic Clifton Mill or you should visit John Bryan State Park and walk the trails of the Clifton Gorge or visit the Glenn Helen Preserve, or you should take your kids to Camp Clifton this summer or isn’t it nice there’s a 4 H Camp the kids can go to so close . When your done with all that you definitely need to go to Young’s Dairy to get Ice Cream . We talk about the history of the area , Tecumseh walked this area , the Underground Railroad moved Slaves through here to be free . So many things that maybe we just take it for granted until it’s GONE !! There is a Developer trying to put an Industrial Solar Plant right next to everything I just described we love about our area . It will in compass 1500-2000 acres of fertile Farmland , adjoining 85 to 100 property’s with homes that people have either built or bought to be their forever home and surrounding half of those on 2 or 3 sides . Extend the boundary of the project out only 1000 to 2000 ft and that number of people effected goes up to close to 1000 . These are our neighbors, families our community. We should care what effects each and everyone that lives here . Cedarville University itself will be within a baseball throw away from the project. The Presidents new home will be a neighbor to acres of solar panels, along with several Professors and people that work at the University. The head Basketball Coaches home will be next door to a Electrical Substation. I’ve lived here my entire life and plan on staying here till I
Die . I and others are spending countless hours pushing hard at stopping this Developer / Vesper Energy Is their name and are being back/ financed by a Hedge Fund Company named Magnetar based in Chicago There is a meeting at the Greene County fairgrounds November 15th at 6:00 , my hope / wish is that people read my comment and react by coming to the meeting Monday evening and letting the OPSB , Ohio Power Sitting Board know that we care about our neighbors and community and their project won’t fit in here . The Greene County Commissioners, the Township Trustees from Cedarville, Miami and Xenia have done their job by opposing the project , please come to support them protecting us . Thanks