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OUR VIEW: Let the sunshine in

Stanly County Commissioner Bill Lawhon made a puzzling statement during Monday’s meeting to consider two separate solar farm projects.

“I don’t want Stanly (County) to be known as the solar capital of North Carolina,” Lawhon was quoted as saying.

Why not?

What would be the problem with allowing aging farmers to continue to receive benefits from their land by using it as a solar farm? Solar farms cause no pollution. They need no county services but provide the potential for thousands in additional property tax revenue each year. Even cows cause more pollution than solar farms.

What’s even more puzzling about Lawhon’s statement is the sudden reversal over the course of several years when the county made an effort to attract solar farms to the area.

What has changed?

Now the commissioners have directed the county staff to draft a one-year moratorium on the approval of future solar projects.

If the commissioners approve this short-sighted moratorium proposal you will be able to hear the cheers from Montgomery, Anson, Cabarrus, Rowan and Union counties because Stanly has purposely taken itself out of the lucrative solar farm game. This would be a huge economic development blunder that could hurt the county for years to come.

Solar farms provide a clean, alternative form of energy. The county has worked to create rules providing buffers and hiding them from view. They should be putting them all along every route into Albemarle because solar farms tell a story of an are that is innovative, progressive and thinking of the future. It is a great advertisement for what we want to be.

What does Bill Lawhon want Stanly County to be known for if not for solar farms? We don’t know, but if Stanly County was known as the solar farm capital of North Carolina that wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.