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No, That North Carolina Town Didn’t Ban Solar Panels For Sucking Up Sun

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This week, it has been widely reported that a town in North Carolina banned solar panels because they "suck up all the energy from the sun." But according to official statements to Tech Times, fear of solar technology had nothing to do with the decision.

According to Woodland Town Clerk Kim Bryant, the town, which already has three solar farms, was considering zoning a fourth segment of land for another field of solar panels. They ultimately voted against the zoning, after receiving a widely circulated petition asking them to deny the request. 

Mayor Kenneth Manual also released a statement, in which he explains, "The citizens opposed the site location, because [the new farm] would create a situation in which the town would be completely surrounded by solar farms."

"The decision to reject the fourth solar farm in our town ... was due to the proposed location," explained an exasperated Bryant, in an email to Tech Times. "It had absolutely nothing to do with various public comments as the media led [some] to believe."

The confusion began over an article in the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, a local paper which reports on Woodland and other nearby areas. In it, reporter Keith Hoggard summarizes the public comment hearing and vote on the zoning proposition.

"During the public comment period preceding the rezoning vote, citizens expressed distrust and fear of the solar panels," writes Hoggard. He goes on to detail the citizens' concerns, including the location of the farms, fewer job opportunities, lower property value, and a "ghost town" feel that he says caused young people to move away. 

Hoggard writes that one public commenter, retired science teacher Jane Mann, stated that the solar panels might prevent nearby plants from photosynthesizing.

"She said she has observed areas near solar panels where vegetation is brown and dead because it did not receive enough sunlight," says Hoggard. Mann's husband went on to explain that "the solar farms would suck up all the energy from the sun." 

The couple also expressed fear that solar panels cause cancer. Of the listed public comments, the Manns' were the only ones which referenced these concerns. The total population of the town is 750. It is common practice in many municipalities to take public comments before decisions which affect the welfare of residents.

The uproar over the comments has flooded the press and social media. This reporter even posted on social media one article from the Independent, with the headline "US town rejects solar panels amid fears they 'suck up all the energy from the sun.'" 

"I don't want to ruin any hillbilly hate," replied North Carolina native Chad Bond, "but as a NC resident, just know that town already has three solar fields approved."

Upon further investigation, it seems Bond's skepticism was well-founded.

That said, a note to former science teachers: You can learn how photosynthesis works, here.

Photo: Dave Lauretti | Flickr

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