Lawmakers in places like Arizona have made news recently by placing a tax on solar panels, but in some areas, politicians want to ban solar power altogether. New legislation in Maine and Hawaii seek to limit where solar companies can operate.
In Maine, legislators are looking to prevent owners of solar panels from selling their excess power back to the grid. The proposal was met with resistance from local businesses and residents who were able to gather 4,000 petition signatures, demanding that their right to sell solar energy be protected.
Meanwhile, in Hawaii, lawmakers want to ban solar outright in certain areas.
According to West Hawaii Today, “House Bill 2636 would put a 25-kilowatt cap on solar generation projects located on land that is zoned agricultural but also serves as a residential area. Creagan introduced the bill in response to outcry from residents of Hawaiian Ocean View Ranchos, who oppose a plan by SPI Solar to place 30,000 solar panels on 26 lots in and around that subdivision.”
The bill was largely opposed by Hawaii residents who think that this could be an obstacle that could get in the way of clean energy development.
Chris Yuen, former planning director for Hawaii County also opposed the bill, saying, “I can understand why a neighbor of a project like this might rather see a vacant lot next door rather than a solar array protected by a fence. It is not visually appealing. But it is not significantly less attractive than many other uses that can be made of that same lot in the ag district. For example, the lot could be covered in shade cloth structures. And I don’t see why the government, in balancing the various interests involved, would change the laws allowing a solar development like this, which would, on each lot, generate enough electricity for 50-100 homes.”
The residents who actually support the legislation seem to be concerned with how solar installments would affect their property values.
“The bill is of vital importance to the thousands of Hawaiians living in subdivisions that were developed back in the 1960s and ’70s and are now called non-conforming subdivisions. Some of them are huge and are home to thousands of people. Unfortunately, they are all still zoned agriculture. So when the lawmakers in Honolulu decide that things like solar farms are OK on ag land, they are thinking of true farming land, some of which is not productive. They don’t think of the non-conforming subdivisions,” Ranchos resident Ann Bosted said.
“I’m sure none of the politicians would like to have a solar farm built next door to them,” she added.
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