Letter to the Editor — Industrial solar comes with many great risks, such as fires

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, July 13, 2022

To the Editor:

The following is from Rappahannock Times, “Firefighters Battled Multiple Blazes”, Wednesday, March 16, 2022, by G.C. Rose:

The Tappahannock-Essex Volunteer County and its mutual aid responder agencies were busy the afternoon and evening of March 7, 2022, battling multiple fires made more difficult as wind reached up to 40 miles per hour. The first blaze was reported inside the Essex Solar Facility as reported by a maintenance worker inside the facility. About 50 acres were involved in the blaze and the fire eventually spread to a wooded area adjoining the facility. The fire chief also noted that this was the third fire at the complex.

At the Essex Board of Supervisors meeting the following night, Craig Shirley, who resides near the Essex Solar Farm, asked supervisors to do all they can to shut down the operation. “There was terrible erosion during construction, and it’s been a problem since day one,” Shirley stated. “Yesterday there was a big fire at the solar industrial complex. There’s no firefighting equipment there. If the wind had been blowing in the other direction, it would’ve burned down our house.

Dominion Energy’s own Sadler Solar in Greensville County had fires March 3, 2022 and March 29, 2022. According to reports by the Independent-Messenger, the causes were a failed connector in a solar array and an inverter. County emergency services were required to contain the fires both times.

These are not the first fires and will not be the last fires caused by an industrial solar plant. If Dominion’s Pineside Solar is approved, more than 2,000 acres of land will be occupied by solar panels, electric inverters, transformers, and high voltage equipment. I believe this shows that the power facility is an enormous risk and liability and will endanger the safety and well-being of the citizens of the county. The only people that will benefit from this project are the stockholders of Dominion.

Solar panel fires are Hazmat fires. There are risks of injury or death to the emergency responders. The burning panels create highly toxic and carcinogenic smoke. The panels continue to produce hundreds of volts of electricity even when disconnected.

What training and special equipment do the county emergency services have? Their lives and ours are at risk.

Contact the Buckingham County Supervisors, commissioners and administrator and tell them to “no” to Pineside Solar. Let them know the citizens do not want this.

Theodore Smith

Buckingham County