I’ve attended several county government hearings on solar energy projects, and one thing stands out: opponents to wind and solar projects are asking the government to intervene to prevent something from happening on your land, not their land. If anti-renewable groups prevail, they strip other property owners of their right to make decisions about their own land.
Keep in mind solar and wind energy farms are placed on land voluntarily and (temporarily) leased by landowners to renewable energy companies. These leases provide stable and drought-proof income and are an option for families who want to diversify or shore up their income.
Renewable energy opponents want to take that option away.
This was really brought home in a recent Linn County Board of Supervisors hearing. Renee Potts provided moving testimony about how leasing a part of her father’s farm to solar helps keep their farm in her family. Her father is older and no longer able to farm. Rather than sell and lose their family legacy, Renee’s family chose solar. As she told Linn County Supervisors:
But according to anti-solar opponents, Renee and her family don’t deserve to keep their farm. This is what one anti-solar leader told the Linn County Board of Supervisors, mentioning the Potts family specifically:
This exchange makes it clear: Landowners who decide to lease to renewable energy projects don’t deserve their land. “They don’t need that farm.” And if your neighbors can decide you don’t need your farm because you leased part of it to solar or you have “good jobs,” might they also decide you don’t need it if you choose not to grow certain crops? Or decide to grow corn for ethanol?
We think the farmers who own the land should decide what happens on it. Most Iowans agree. In a statewide survey conducted by Bright Future Iowa in early 2022, 67% of Iowa voters are in full support of farmer property rights, agreeing that:
Anti-renewable opponents disagree. In their view, farmers should be told what to do with their land if they plan to lease for solar or wind or have “good jobs.” Or, as the same anti-solar leader also said in her testimony, they are snowbirds and only live in Iowa part-time:
Sticking our noses into other people’s business and personal decisions about using their land is inconsistent with Iowa’s respect for property rights. We can adopt common-sense parameters around renewable energy projects in response to neighbor concerns. Still, those concerns shouldn’t override the rights of farmers who see renewable energy as a good fit for their farm and family.
An anti-solar leader told Renee Potts and her family that they didn’t need their farm.
What keeps them from telling you that you don’t need yours?