Friday, February 25, 2022

BACKLASH FROM SOLAR PROPONENTS


Those for and against the proposed solar fields in Lovell, Maine do not reflect traditional party lines. Not all left-leaning people who support renewable energy in principle support the local solar fields project, recognizing that multinational corporations profit from them and don’t always care what ancillary effects they have on a little town like Lovell. Not all the conservative-leaning citizens are against commercial solar projects either, recognizing that, while landowners should be free to lease their land to huge solar companies, they want zoning ordinances to regulate it.

As a fairly well-known local conservative who has publicly opposed the huge solar development proposed by Walden Renewables for Lovell, I’ve been criticized for going against conservative principles. After all, don’t conservatives believe landowners should be free to do what they like with their property? One critic emailed me recently claiming: “[A]n unexpected disappointment was to see you apparently lose your compass. I expect hypocrisy and false outrage from the left but not from a conservative [who] would want to own other people’s property communally.”

Richard inherited a good-sized piece of land near me and agreed to lease it to Walden Renewables for about half of their proposed solar project — some tens of thousands of solar panels. I don’t know how much Walden promised to pay him but it must be a good chunk of change because he’s pissed at me for helping organize Lovell’s opposition to the project “[I]t appears you got fearful that your view would be impacted and you were off to the races . . . spreading mis-information and publishing fake news like you were a Rachel Maddow staffer. … You’re waist deep in with the mob as a hero of the revolution.”


As a board member of Our Eden Association, the principal organization opposing the project, I helped get a proposed ordinance onto an upcoming Lovell Town Meeting ballot that would discourage multinational companies from building large scale solar developments in Lovell while encouraging projects for a homeowner or a small business. Richard compares that to Bolshevism, writing: “



“It is truly scary what is happening in Lovell. The phenomenon of how social media can be used in a malicious way to gather support to trounce on landowners’ rights. Mobs don’t need to walk the street with torches now, they just use Facebook.  Anything this group wants to do from seeding the boards to putting in new ordinances they are able to do with their apparatus in place.”




Well yeah, those are some of the things we’re encouraging through the Our Eden Association, but isn’t that constitutional democracy at work? Not in Richard’s mind apparently: “Lovell has gone full on socialist and heading for communism and you’re in there leading the movement,” he wrote. “Republican leaning folks focus a lot on big government at the state and federal level but the absolute tyranny comes from towns and neighbors. Are you working on the 5 year plan?”



Well, sort of. I know Richard was referring to Lenin’s and Stalin’s five-year plans for the Soviet Union, but it so happens that Lovell is preparing to update its Comprehensive Plan and recently canvassed citizens about what direction they want Lovell to go in. State law requires towns to do that but evidently Richard considers it tyranny.



Within days after word got out about the Walden Solar project, Richard contacted me, evidently to feel me out about my position on it. I knew who Richard was at the time, but didn’t know him well. I was still researching it and hadn’t made up my mind and I told him so. Now I’m wondering if Walden had asked him to contact me. Did the company consider me a potential adversary who writes newspaper columns? I don’t know.


My wife, Roseann in the yard

“This was a good if not great project for Lovell, the country, and the world,” he wrote last week. “It never even got a hearing because a mob sprung into action that could be compared to all the great dangerous mobs of history.”


Mobs led by me I guess.


“Lovell is lost to me,” he continued. “It gave me a great childhood but with Berta’s passing my last emotional tie to the town is gone. Good luck with whoever buys all my land.  I won’t tell them that they have many co-owners that will not share in the taxes. 


Richard was referring to Roberta Chandler, a mutual friend about whom I recently wrote a tribute for the Lovell Historical Society Newsletter. Roberta was a great lady who loved Lovell.


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