Sunday, July 7, 2013

Solar Electric Facility Would Denigrate Bedminster Township

A 55-acre, 49,000-panel solar electric generating facility for Sanofi-Aventis (pharmaceuticals) in Bridgewater Township is proposed for Bedminster Township where friends and my family live. The panels would cover environmentally sensitive ground in two blocks, including 38 acres of woodland that would be removed.

According to the Highlands Regional Master Plan, which is the result of extremely complex mapping of the overall region, the proposed site is a critical wildlife area with 90% habitat value and 30% and 95% wildlife corridor values, has 50%-65% groundwater recharge values, important farmland soils and is an agricultural resource area (once was a farm), has moderate watershed value, and one of the two blocks proposed to have panels is 75% flood plain. Chambers Brook nearby has flooded progressively worse in the past 15 years and one would hope that floods will not damage what may be cadmium panels. I read the Wikipedia account of those and though they are manufactured in China, they are considered too dangerous to use in China since cadmium is an extreme poison.

We don't want the panels. Just the thought of 49,000 scales on the backs of two creatures come uninvited to wholly serve the interests of a pharmaceutical company with nothing left over, scarring the land with two broad sweeps of blackness, devalues the township we live in. No one thinks solar power in general is a bad idea. It's how it's applied. Put it over parking lots and on roofs. Don't complicate matters by sacrifice. Denigrating environments in the name of environmental benefit makes no sense but a company's saving itself a little money, when surely it could go elsewhere with a project to where it really belongs. On its own property.

Part of the proposed land use area is wetlands, where I believe a roadway is proposed to cut through and the drilling for the power cable. This cable is planned to pass right under Interstate 287 into Bridgewater Township and may further disturb the integrity of this biome. At the least, it needs to be pointed out what they may be compromising, because in these times of environmental degradation, we need to fight for every inch.

Alternatives always exist for what we can do, for the man-made, but our environment is a natural given unlike our choices. Parking lots can use the cover of solar panels. They keep cars' interiors cooler on hot days and protect them from snow building up on them during the winter. Small considerations, but plusses gained rather than negatives imposed.

Besides, China outlaws the use of cadmium panels for a reason. If they were to catch fire or be damaged somehow, cadmium would leach into soil that has 50%-65% groundwater recharge value. That makes me nervous. A friend recently had a new well drilled in that area of the Township and it's not cool to put cadmium over the water source. It would put anyone on edge.

There will be Township hearings and voices will be appreciated.