Industrial solar would take farmland out of production

A wind turbine and solar panels are seen at a farm in the Monticello countryside in 2018. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Energy giants like NextEra Energy of Florida and Clenera Energy of Idaho aim to replace thousands of acres of farmland and wildlife habitat in Linn County with solar panels. If Industrial Solar is allowed to expand into Iowa, it will have a devastating impact on the United States, as Iowa ranks first in corn production, second in soybean production, first in pork production , first in egg production and fourth in value of beef exports. These products feed our country and keep our economy strong through agricultural exports to other countries. Iowa produces three of the top five U.S. agricultural exports

Additionally, Iowa is the national leader in ethanol and biodiesel production. Ethanol and biodiesel are renewable fuels that reduce our dependence on foreign fuels and avert national crises such as the 1979 oil crisis that crippled U.S. transportation and necessitated gasoline rationing in several parts of the United States. United. In 2019, US oil dependence on foreign oil was 4%. it would have been 10% without the production of ethanol. Iowa’s agriculture and related industries provide 20% of Iowa’s jobs. The ethanol industry alone is cited as providing 200,000 jobs in the United States and Iowa leads the United States in ethanol production.

Industrial Solar replaces farmland and wildlife habitat. It starts with grading the construction site for optimized drainage and disturbing or removing topsoil. It was during this construction phase that just half an inch of rain turned the Rappahannock River – which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay – brown in a 200-acre solar project. Metal piles are driven 20 to 80 feet into the ground, puncturing topsoil, clay and sand, and potentially limestone; bypassing these natural filters and providing a direct path for surface water to enter natural aquifers that provide drinking water.

The proposed Duane Arnold Solar Project in Linn County sits directly on the Cedar River and could increase the risk of flooding that devastated Cedar Rapids and surrounding communities in 2008. Industrial solar would offset renewable and green contributions from the ethanol and biodiesel. Biofuels have the potential to offset greenhouse gas emissions by more than 100% compared to fossil fuels because plants convert carbon dioxide to oxygen as they grow.

NextEra Energy of Florida is proposing to convert 3,500 acres of farmland in Linn County to Industrial Solar. In past projects, NextEra violated local ordinances and failed to follow the construction plan it filed in NextEra’s Vermont industrial solar project. Please contact the Linn County Board of Supervisors and oppose this project.

Ted and Julie Hoffmann live in rural Palo.

Amalia H. Mercado