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Solar energy? Please, not in my back yard

nadine bugBeing a Realtor/Broker about the only thing I really know about solar is making sun tea on my back porch. I know solar means sun. The sun is very powerful and gives us beautiful, sunny days and makes my garden flourish.

Driving home to Denver from the beach last weekend, I saw what looked to be a bunch of solar panels on the side of the road on Route 74. They were enclosed in a very tall fence with barbwire wrapped at the top. My first thought: Was this power for the nearby prison? The barbwire looked scary and the grounds unsightly. What did I know about solar panels, much less a solar farm?

Just last week, I heard about Strata Solar’s proposal for a 36-acre, 26,000 panel solar farm right in front of one of our beautiful communities in the Denver area.  Residents that surround the proposed facility are up in arms about the proposal, which has come up at the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners.

Although solar panel farms dot many rural areas, usually they are well away from high traffic areas and certainly away from residential areas.

Upon learning of this farm being built in my neck of the country I frantically scoured the internet for the good and bad of solar panel farms. Honestly, there was not much bad to find. Looking up solar panels on Wikipedia here is what I found:

What can solar panels do?

Solar panels receive energy from the Sun and use it to produce electricity. They are much cheaper to maintain than oil-powered electricity generators and oil storage tanks. Solar panels are also friendlier to the environment because they let off less pollution to the atmosphere compared to the smelly emissions which come from oil tanks.

What is a solar panel?

A solar panel is an energy converter
A solar panel converts the sun’s rays into heat, or electricity.

Are solar panels good or bad?

Solar panels are good for relatively low-power applications where getting a supply from the grid would be costly or difficult. For example, remote buildings, signs, temporary or mobile equipment. In residential applications, however, compared to the cost of electricity from the grid, the power generated by solar panels is not sufficient to pay for the cost of the panels and their installation.

What is bad about solar energy?

Silicon panels produce STC in production which can be fully recycled creating a closed-loop system. Therefore it produces no bad by-product. 

Cadmium Indium Gallium Selenide or CIGS had some concerned that harmful chemicals would be released if the panels were caught in a fire but extensive fire testing found they burning of the cells actually encapsulated the harmful material within the other materials in the array releasing less than even slightly harmful amounts of the material. In addition, such manufacturers as First Solar have created escrow accounts for a forced recycling program meaning all the panels when no longer working will be picked up by the company and recycled. Reusing 90+ percent of the panels’ material and removing any harmful possibilities. 

Solar arrays of course need no fuel and produce no waste simply converting the sun’s energy directly into DC energy. 

Traditional silicon solar panels when they are recycled either because they are being replaced or have become damaged can be almost fully recycled as well as the valuable materials which are basically silicon, aluminum, steel, copper, and glass all of which can be recycled. 

The other harmful chemicals present of course are lead, cadmium, selenium, tetrachloride, and indium. However, between modern sealed landfills, the trace amount of these materials and the economic incentive from recovering the materials in panels these are not a significant or even minor threat to the environment.

WOW, these were great articles about solar, solar panels and solar farms. Still digging I found one really negative problem: PROPERTY VALUES DECREASE BY 30 percent when your neighborhood has a solar panel farm nearby.

A good thing in the wrong place could be a catastrophe !!!

Putting a solar panel farm in front of a residential community could bring devastating affects to your property value surrounding the facility.  Since Strata Solar is registered as a utility company no zoning change is required for the approval. That means this could happen anywhere, in front of any residential community, yours or mine! Thinking about moving? Being transferred and selling your home? With a Solar Panel Farm in your front yard expect your property to decrease as much as 30%, maybe more. Buyers typically don’t like seeing or even knowing there is any type of industrial facility near their potential new home, whether because of a visual eye sore or a perceived “fear of the unknown.”

Other counties, cities and states that have had solar farms build in their areas have seen large decreases in property values since the farms arrivals.  Solar Panel farms are dotting our state along with the help of Duke Power. Yes, they are creating jobs and helping fuel our world efficiently. But, please go find some wide open farmland, away from our residential communities to build them! As a Realtor, I love economic growth and creating jobs, but not at the expense of my buyers and sellers. Does your county have strong enough zoning to prevent this from happening in your neighborhood?  You’d better get involved and find out!

Strata Solar Company NIMBY – Not In My Back Yard, PLEASE!

Nadine Deason is a Realtor and broker with Team Nadine LLC/Keller Williams Realty. column appears monthly on this page.


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One Response to “Solar energy? Please, not in my back yard”

  1. T. Bruin says:

    I have heard similar devaluations from the unsightly farms. It would be nice if the roofing manufacturers would accelerate the development of attractive solar tiles for homes so individual home owners could reduce their reliance on the power grid. This would provide an attractive solution to the farms and if they could bring the cost down to an affordable level.



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