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Solar Farm proposal filled with empty promises
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My name is Larry Fry. I chose Barton County to be my home after living more than 30 years in Southern California. A large part of my reason to choose the Great Bend area is the “undeveloped” nature of this rural area. I had enough of “developed” acres like the wind farms and solar energy farms of California. 

There was a recent Viewpoint in the Tribune addressing the solar farm that is being proposed between Great Bend and the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Management Area. In it, the author listed several legitimate points, categorized as the good, the bad, and the unknown. 

Job creation is one of those points. Acciona “promises” 30 permanent jobs? You can bet that a certain portion of those will be management jobs, filled by personnel that Accoina brings in from the outside. And what happens when/if those 30 jobs don’t materialize? What would be the consequence to Acciona for failing to fulfill? Sounds like a politician’s promise to me. 

Granted, there will probably be more than 30 workers employed during the three years (estimated) allowed to install these 3+ square miles of panels and the ancillary support systems. You can also bet that most of those temporary jobs will be filled by experienced, highly-trained technicians that won’t come from our local high schools. 

Increased property taxes is given as a so-called benefit. (It’s being called “revenue generation.”) So, who pays these increased property taxes? It sure isn’t Acciona. No, it’s the landowner. Certainly no one else’s property will experience an increase in value. In fact, they “could” decrease in value. Will that offset “revenue” from some increased property tax? 

A bullet-point under Good is lower electricity costs for locals. To be fair, even the author concedes that this “could” “hopefully” be a result. This is quite another Unknown. A definition of “unknown” in this editorial should be “don’t count on it.” 

Another Good listing that belongs under Unknown is this solar farm “could” stimulate “economic development.” Okay, tell me in detail how that works. 

We got a glimpse of the unintended consequences of project like this with the storage of wind generator tower components and blades on Great Bend property at the city airport: A huge eye-sore and heavily-damaged county roads from the heavy truck traffic bringing these components in and out was the result, and it quickly fell apart.  

How much do we actually learn from our experiences? 

What happens when these panels deteriorate and have outlived their usefulness? Will Acciona just wipe their hands and walk away, leaving the land owner to deal with it, like the wind power people do? Someone knows the answer to that ... 

I see the “benefits” of this project being of a singular type: money. Some (mostly temporary) money for local businesses. Some money for the land owners of the chosen plots where the panels will be placed. Lots of money for the Spanish company Acciona. Not much, if any, for me and the vast majority of my Barton County neighbors ... at least not beyond pie-in-the-sky promises. 

The Cheyenne Bottoms area is too unique, too important, too sensitive, too precious to risk for the sake of a few dollars for a few people. The United States (and the world) has uncounted areas where a project of this nature could be built without destroying and/or endangering so much of value. Don’t let Barton County become California. 


Larry Fry 

Great Bend