LETTER – Apex Clean Energy’s dirty little secret

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, November 10, 2021

To the Editor:

Charlottesville-based Apex Clean Energy has a dirty little secret that they are keeping from local residents. Apex is planning to slip a massive 2,000 acre industrial-scale solar project in Scottsville without any opposition. Here’s the enigma: Apex’s solar plan is not really green nor is it clean.

The land under consideration for the project, zoned for agriculture, has been used for timber production for the last 60 years. By removing all the trees and vegetation from an area that equates to the size of 18 football fields, Apex will create a moonscape. The trees will be replaced with thousands of galvanized steel pilings to hold the solar panels: this is the opposite of what research supports to be green. Replanting trees remains the most effective strategy to sequester carbon and mitigate climate change.

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Runoff from the construction of the massive project creates another environmental nightmare already experienced by other solar projects in Virginia. Sited less than a half mile from the James River close to Seven Islands, the project threatens to fill the creeks and river with sediment, destroying a favorite recreation spot of locals. Sited in a beautiful rural area, this so-called “green energy” will devastate wildlife habitats and delicate soil ecosystems.

Where is the “clean” in Apex Clean Energy when it comes to solar trash? Obsolete solar arrays are toxic waste because they contain zinc, cadmium and rare earth elements, yet the cost to recycle the materials far outweighs the cost to dump the panels in a landfill. The lease for the solar project is 40 years, which means our grandchildren will inherit the job of cleaning up solar trash.

Solar energy makes sense when it’s sited on roof-tops, not where thousands of acres are denuded of trees and run-off will fill local waterways with sediment.

Jennis Pickens