Restrictions of solar energy injure the future generation

More Info
By Friday, May 5 Letters  4 Comments

 To the Editor:

At the [Great Barrington] annual town meeting on May 1, residents of Great Barrington voted to approve two amendments to the Planning Board’s proposed solar bylaws (a more regressive measure, proposed by Holly Hamer, was voted down). These amendments limit ground-based solar arrays in certain residential zones, and they do so for cosmetic reasons. It’s hard to know what impact the amendments will have, since ground-based arrays are nobody’s first choice, but if they serve to block even a single solar project, the town has something to answer for.

The suggestion that solar arrays are ugly and ought to be kept out of sight is not one to which I’m sympathetic, but that’s not the point. I do not accept the proposition that spurious aesthetic concerns justify limiting, even to a small extent, our capacity to generate clean energy. A number of residents argued that solar technology changes quickly, that these arrays may be obsolete next year, that we could be saddled with unsightly and inefficient installations for decades. That might have been an acceptable argument 30 years ago. It is not acceptable now. Next year is a long time from now, and we are far behind.

It may be that we’re not talking about a lot of energy, but it doesn’t matter. The debate was undertaken in bad faith. Every kilowatt comes from somewhere. Every delay gives life to a declining fossil fuel industry. We should kill that industry, not drag our feet, and we should be mindful of the people who suffer as a result of our hesitation. We should remember that even if we had natural gas under our feet in Berkshire County, we would not permit its extraction. We have that luxury. Other people in less prosperous places do not. The more energy we get from natural gas, the more we participate in that larger injustice.

In another sense, however, the people who have the most to lose as a result of climate change were not present at the meeting. My own14-month-old son was at home with a babysitter. A group of older people made decisions about his future. He — not they — will have to live with the consequences.

If bylaws can be amended once, they can be amended twice. We should strike these amendments at the first opportunity, re-elect Malcolm Fick and Jonathan Hankin to the Planning Board, and follow their prudent guidance.

Aaron Thier

7 Benton Ave.

Great Barrington, Mass.

Return Home

4 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Shawn G. says:

    Much better to be self-reliant than depend on oil from the Middle East.

    1. Didier Steven says:

      Yes. Fracking might not be great, off-shore wind farms an eyesore, as well as solar arrays. But superior solution to fighting another middle east war in my opinion.

  2. peter greer says:

    Agree with Aaron 100% . Solar on residential was declared as of right many years ago, before there were ground based systems , and the intent was to stop the very action the town just passed. Optic and neighbor aesthetic do not trump the need , urgent and needed more each day, for renewable energy. The question properly relates to siting and zoning of larger scale systems in resi areas which were not possible when the initial law was crafted, not behind the meter systems that power the owners house or property. As I bike miles through our beautiful area I find solar arrays on roofs ,or ground mounted as beautiful as the farmland. This NIMBY scenario, and that is exactly what it is,plays itself out in various iterations without recognizing that collectively we move further from any solution from clean energy.Connect the dots and you get the Otis pipleline which could be negated by Conn and other states adopting more rigorous RPS not increasing demand for dirty energy .

What's your opinion?

We welcome your comments and appreciate your respect for others. We kindly ask you to keep your comments as civil and focused as possible. If this is your first time leaving a comment on our website we will send you an email confirmation to validate your identity.

BOB GRAY: Children’s Crusade

Friday, Feb 23 - Following the latest school shooting atrocity in Parkland, Florida, another Children’s Crusade is rising: a largely youth-bred movement meant to persuade legislators to take some meaningful action to stem the needless deaths of our country’s children in schools.


Wednesday, Feb 21 - It didn’t take long for me to realize that the young adults of Parkland were cutting through the layers of despair I had built up all these years. They were telling their truth with passion and conviction.

Cockroaches, Lent and felled innocence

Tuesday, Feb 20 - On an average, 96 people a day are killed by gunfire in the United States. Yesterday, 17 children were killed in Florida. That leaves 79 others whose names and faces we won’t be seeing online or in print, but they are still dead.