Solar panel farm in Clarke County has some residents upset
The farm was all approved at the state and local level without anything being told directly to them
MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) -
When the residence of the Barnett community, just south of Pachuta saw land being cleared in September of 2022, it wasn’t a cause for concern. Generations of their families have lived in the area for 100+ years so timber being cleared to sell has happened before.
It wasn’t until the amount of cleared land was realized and large heavy-duty machinery came in that the residents started asking questions. They soon learned Cane Creek Solar, LLC, a company based out of Ashville, NC, would be installing a 650-acre solar panel farm, with solar panels reaching 10 – 12 feet in the air, essentially, right on top of their tiny community. And it was all approved at the state and local level without anything being told directly to them.
“Right now, it’s just. Got our whole community in disarray. It’s just a very big inconvenience for us right now. The noise, lots of noise, lots of traffic.” said Sandra Strickland, resident of Barnett
Mary Nell Moore, whos family has lived in the area going back decades, stated “We’re devastated. I mean, it is just taking the whole tone of our community and just turned it into something that our parents built this for us. You know they, they worked hard to get this a safe environment and everything for us. Now we just exposed to it, just everything. We’re no longer... We feel unsafe, we feel violated.”
Once the community realized that they would soon be neighbors with a solar panel farm the size of 500 football fields, they went before the Clarke county board of supervisors with their concerns. The board responded by setting up a meeting with a parent company of Cane Creek Solar, Pine Gate Renewables, VP of Project Development, Sean Anderson. However, after meeting with Anderson, they remained concerned about potential risk from solar panels, safety risk from increased traffic and property values.
Anita Strickland homes is located directly across the street from the solar farm site. She states “My biggest concern is the value. What is going to be left for our children? What was left to my husband’s family. You know? The value of it. No one wants to look out their front door, build in a community where you don’t know if there’s danger. You know, it’s just disheartening that we had no say so.”
“We were not notified of any of this, you know? When we did find out it was already approved and already in progress. So, you know, I feel like you know they kind of overlooked us. Just kind of kicked us to the to the curb with no regard to how we felt about it. And I think that was on purpose.” says Odeal Brown JR, lifelong resident
When talking with the residents, they shared with me the long-term health and immediate safety concerns they have with this project.
Long term – what could be the possible health effects from living so close to 650 acres worth of solar panels?
While the World Health Organization reports that the low-level electromagnetic field solar panels produce shows no evidence that it is harmful to human health.
The European Commission Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identifiable Health Risks, have a slightly different opinion. They say that it’s possible, but far from conclusive, that extremely low-frequency magnetic fields could have the potential to cause cancer.
However, neither of these studies take into account living near a large utility-scale solar panel farm. The studies are based on having solar panels on individual homes.
The residence immediate safety concerns are the amount of large 18-wheeler traffic traveling their narrow and once quiet road. As well as the influx of temporary workers, building the farm will require. The Cane Creek Solar Project is slated to employee between 250-300 people during its construction. Once completed, it will only employee five.
News 11 has reached out to Barnett supervisor, Lorenzo Carter. He advised us to reach out to the board attorney Bill Hamrick. When we spoke to Hamrick, he directed us to reach out to Sean Anderson of Pine Gate Renewables a parent company of Cane Creek Solar. At this time our phone calls or emails to Anderson have not been returned.
Friday night, we’ll take a deeper look at how & when this project got started and if there was more that could or should have been done to notify the residence before the project got off the ground.
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