Letters: Solar power for a brighter future

Johnson City Press • Aug 26, 2018 at 6:00 AM

After electric utility BrightRidge and Nashville-based Silicon Ranch Corp. started work on a new solar farm in the area, we asked you with Monday’s Question of the Week to tell us your thoughts on solar power and other renewable energy sources. Here are some of your responses.

Continue Tennessee’s support for solar in Washington

As a BrightRidge customer, I applaud our local electrical utility for joining the TVA and Nashville-based Silicon Ranch Corp. in breaking ground last week on a solar farm near Jonesborough, the first public-private partnership of its kind in Northeast Tennessee.

This is exactly the type of common sense, renewable energy infrastructure that we need to be investing and developing across Tennessee. My family is eager to sign up for either the month-to-month or 20-year BrightRidge license, so that we can now also help advance more renewable solar energy projects in the Volunteer State!

However, this week’s rollback of the Clean Power Plan sends us a clear signal that Washington is trying to send us back in the wrong direction. That’s why I’m glad to know that Phil Bredesen, Silicon Ranch Corporation’s current Chairman of the Board, is applying for the job to be our next U.S. Senator. We need leaders like Gov. Bredesen who have proven to find solutions in NE Tennessee that will help move us forward toward a bright future in renewable alternative energy. Finding common ground with all stakeholders and creating public/private partnerships in renewable energy is the right way to grow our 21st century economy. Thanks to this new partnership effort, we now have the capacity to strengthen our economy through an “all of the above energy strategy” which can help bring about more good paying jobs at the same time! Vote Phil Bredesen for U.S. Senate on Nov. 6.

Johnson City

Use unused space for solar panels

I'm all for solar as a renewable energy source, but solar farms need to be erected first over roofs and parking lots where they can give shade in the summer, and where they will require little new infrastructure.

Until we run out of those sites, solar farms in our region will waste arable land. It will need to be paved over in some way, or kept mowed or sprayed with herbicide so it does not become overgrown, either way an environmental liability.

It should be a simple matter to engineer a grid of cabled, linked and fail-safed structural supports and withstanding anything the weather might do when we're parked under it.


It’s worth the renewable switch

My husband and I were very hopeful when we read recently that BrightRidge joined the Tennessee Valley Authority and Silicon Ranch Corp. in breaking ground on a solar farm in Washington County. As builders and owners of our own micro-hydroelectric plant in Carter County, we believe that everyone should be a part of maintaining our limited resources for energy production that does less damage to our health and environment than fossil fuels. More than many people, we understand the sacrifices and rewards that go into making changes for a cleaner, better future. Those sacrifices may include the initial cost of building a hydroelectric plant, installing solar panels or purchasing a more fuel-efficient car as well as maintaining those investments.

We empathize with hard working people who have depended on fossil fuels for their livelihood in the past and are facing the loss of work. We also believe that it is the moral responsibility of our country to help sustain these workers as they prepare themselves for inevitable changes by providing effective training for jobs that are in demand and align well with their skill level, culture and interests.

The rewards are tremendous on a personal, local, state and national level: a personal feeling of contributing to cleaner air and water and overall health of our citizens; a boost to local and state economies due to tourism that relies on an attractive environment; and lower rates of asthmatic attacks/deaths of our children. Finally, in addition to alternative ways of producing energy, Congress should enact market-based solutions like Carbon Fee and Dividend or revenue-neutral carbon tax which is supported by 68 percent of Americans, according to a recent Yale polling.

Roan Mountain

Keep an eye out each week for another Question of the Week, but you may send us letters about any topic important to you. Authors must sign their letters and include addresses and phone numbers for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length. Send your submission to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717 or [email protected].

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