Solar panels are hot right now, and not just because they turn heat from the sun into electricity: farmland is being bought and developed for large-scale acreage in rural areas.
For Tangipahoa Parish, with lots of rural land and no parish-wide zoning, alternative energy should be natural, but controversy erupts there as it has elsewhere.
Two projects are underway but the parish council wants to apply new rules, including tree buffers to hide the facilities, and deal with possible drainage problems.
A pro-development council member Carlo S. Bruno noted that special rules for particular industries or locations proliferate, including traditional real estate developments that have caused controversy in the parish.
In areas subject to zoning regulations, Bruno’s concerns would be referred to as concerns about “one-off zoning” or within the rules – situations where the courts have often intervened to enforce fair development regulation.
We don’t know what the answer is for Tangipahoa or West Baton Rouge or other areas where solar farms have raised concerns. An expert from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette told Tangipahoa council that farmers should not worry about solar panels poisoning their water sources or hampering future agricultural use of the land.
What is unreasonable is to fear what is new. And it is the duty of political leaders not to act as if every rumor on Facebook regarding solar panel installations should be taken as gospel truth.