The ongoing dispute over a proposed solar generating farm in Saunderstown has filled social media and our town with pro and con posts and public comments at Town Council meetings, but the arguments are irrelevant. This is a circular firing squad and we are not focusing on the root cause.
I find myself on both sides of this issue. I support and have installed reasonable alternative energy solutions and I support land preservation. I do not support “net-metering,” which is the root cause. It is the mess created by the Rhode Island legislature that quietly removed the reasonable cap on how much electricity could be “net-metered” and subsidized by ratepayers. That action is driving all the solar farm development and has opened the floodgates for every manner of solar opportunist throughout the state.
The TurningPoint Energy proposal at Tower Hill and Shermantown roads would immediately dedicate a majority percentage of land to open space, clear a quite small percentage of land in the middle for solar arrays, pay for more trees to hide the arrays from view and pay for many other ameliorating issues to allay people’s fears and, at the end of 25 years, close the operation down and dedicate the remaining land to open space in perpetuity. Now, that is an exceptionally good deal, overall, in my opinion. But we will still be subsidizing the electricity generated there due to net-metering.
We all know someone who has “invested” in a solar array and brags about their electric meter now running backwards. I am sick of listening to them. The rest of us are financially subsidizing them when we pay our electric bill every month. It will get much worse because the free-for-all of new solar developers is growing.
I will not install a solar array until I can store the day’s power in batteries for tonight’s needs; no net-metering necessary. I sure hope that capability is not far off.
I am not interested in fighting TPE or its opponents. Under the circumstances, we have an exceptionally good deal for North Kingstown in front of us and we would be wise to accept it. State law has created this disaster and it will take a cap on net-metering to fix it. Our state representatives need to lead us out of this net-metering mess with better legislation.