Editor, The Era-Leader:
I am writing in response to last week's letter to the editor regarding Solar Farm facts.
Google "Solar Farm" and you get "an installation or area of land in which a large number of solar panels are set up in order to generate electricity". Fact, not fiction - New terminology and words are continually being added to our dictionaries. Google "SEP" and you get "Simplified Employee Pension". Citizens most likely Google "Solar Farm" and not "SEP" when researching Solar Farms. Solar Farm is a common term used by the media, our leaders, and industry. Just read the recent newspaper and internet stories about the positive growth of Solar Farms in our state and nation. There is even a nice looking Solar Farm near the entrance to Disney World (Google it!). In the end, does it really matter what they are called? Not sure why we are wasting our time writing about semantics.
The letter claims the hundreds of the LSU/Iris Solar Farm construction workers did not contribute to Washington Parish's economy? Really? No gasoline, diesel, food, drinks, supplies, hardware, etc. were purchased in the parish during construction? That surely is not a fact.
It is a fact that Solar Farms will bring significant needed revenue to the parish, much more tax dollars than what is being generated today by the proposed sites. Whether it is $4 million (too low an estimate included in the July 7 letter), $12 million (better estimate) or somewhere in between for a 400 to 500 acre Solar Farm, it will provide a significant boost to the parish economy. The parish could do notably more for its citizens than just upgrade the air conditioning system at the courthouse.
The Sunlight Road property was operated as a cattle farm for over 35 years with 1 full time employee and occasional part time help that equates to approximately 1.5 direct full time jobs. If it takes 5 to 10 full time jobs to operate a 450 acre cattle ranch as the letter implies, that business would operate at a significant loss or the workers are getting paid much less than minimum wage. A Solar Farm would contribute so much more tax dollars to the local economy with minimal risks.
Look at the large industries currently in Washington Parish and ask yourself what the risks are associated with those endeavors. All of these existing industries, which I support, have risks, many of the same risks you list in your letter. Do citizens want no large industries in the parish?
Nothing I write in these letters will change the mind of the few who don't want a landowner to lawfully lease their property to a legitimate solar business. Those few just don't want another Solar Farm in Washington Parish generating clean energy even though all potential Solar Farms will take up less than one percent of available farmland. The positive environmental and economic impacts of a screened Solar Farm more than outweigh any miniscule risks. Many of our leaders in Washington DC and Louisiana realize this and openly promote the development of Solar Farms.
Again, I support the parish passing a reasonable ordinance, to ensure that concerned citizens' voices are heard, and to hold solar developers accountable for what they build. But the intent of the ordinance should not be to stop all Solar Farm development in the parish and thereby circumvent the land use rights everyone should hold dearly.
for Boudreaux Family Limited Partnership