solar

Solar panels

The issue of climate change has been missing from our community discussion of Cricket Solar LLC’s proposed project.

Climate change is the very reason we must seek sources of clean energy. Climate change is now affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow. Weather patterns are changing, sea levels are rising, weather events are becoming more extreme and greenhouse gas emissions are now at their highest levels in history.

Humanity has about 10 years to make massive reductions in our carbon emissions to prevent global warming reaching a very dangerous level, according to the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate change is today’s battle, and we must win.

Large-scale solar energy is an important part of the solution we desperately need. When I see solar panels, I see hope for the future. They are beautiful.

Historic preservation and solar panels are not mutually exclusive. My husband and I own a family farm, which is on both the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. Our land is in a conservation easement. We added solar panels three years ago; they are silent and odorless. In those three years, our solar array—a tiny fraction of the size of the proposed Cricket project—has eliminated 45 tons of carbon-dioxide emissions while providing most of our electricity.

What has surprised me most about our solar array has been the response of young people. Seeing the panels piques their interest, and they stop for a visit even if just bicycling on our road. One young woman from Uganda visited because our 12-kilowatt solar array, designed for two Americans, was adequate to supply the needs of her entire village.

The panels communicate to young guests that we care about their future, and it is only then that they express interest in the farm’s history. Having past, present and future in one place stimulates meaningful conversations—exactly the purpose of historic preservation.

I don’t claim to have all the answers about the Cricket project. But the one thing I do know is that the decision needs to be based upon the future—the health of our planet and the needs of our children and grandchildren. If we don’t win the battle of climate change, we lose both our history and our future.

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Kathy Ellis owns Culpeper County’s historic Clifton Farm , built in 1845,

with her husband, Robert.

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