“What we are seeing in my county right now is that developers are coming in and asking for 50 acres to put up a solar [or] wind farm…. If the developers got their way in all my surrounding townships, we would have 12,000 acres of solar on some of the best farmland in the United States. It’s monstrous.”
It is still possible to get two sides of the story regarding renewable energy. You just need to read the bottom half first. And correct a few things.
I was reminded of this when reading a pro-renewable piece by Stacy Gittleman, “The Role of Wind and Solar in the Future of Power” (August 24, 2021), the cover story of Downtown Newsmagazine.
Backdoor is better than nothing to shake up the puff narrative. But add what what is not mentioned: special government favor creates the anti-environmental projects that create the conflict with pristine landscape. This is much more than just a NIMBY issue.
The relevant paragraphs from the above article follow:
But perception sours when a utility or developer proposes a modest or large-scale wind or solar installation that may change the local landscape. Detractors of renewables argue that solar and wind farms are eyesores, noisy, take up too much land space, kill birds, or produce energy at inconsistent rates. Others contend that the mineral mining required to manufacture wind turbines, solar panels, and energy storage batteries only causes further environmental degradation.
Kevon Martis of Lenawee County a decade ago founded the grassroots organization Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition with a mission to block “big energy projects” from coming into rural areas of Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. Coming to the aid of other pop-up grassroots Facebook groups in the state, such as Isabella Wind Watch and No More Wind Turbines in Michigan, Martis is a well-known opponent of wind and solar.
He denies he is funded by coal and oil special interests like the Koch Brothers despite indications to the contrary. [Ed. note: Martis is right, critics wrong 1] Even so, he said fighting wind and solar at the grassroots level is not a partisan issue. He pointed to the success of environmentalists and tribal leaders stopping a wind project in the Upper Peninsula that proposed a wind farm installation to be built in pristine forestland. He also said that natural gas, rather than wind and solar, will get the country closer to meeting zero emissions standards.
“Our position is primarily one of land use,” said Martis, who has served on multiple zoning boards in Lenawee County. “Wind and solar are the opposite of being environmentally friendly because they take up more land than any nuclear or coal-fired power plant in Michigan.”
Martis claimed that it is getting more difficult to get wind projects approved in Michigan. He fears that large-scale wind and solar farms eat up the best farmland in the state. He said it would be more favorable if Michigan extended incentives for individualized rooftop solar power programs to electrify homes and businesses and put power on the grid instead of wind and solar installations taking up acres of farmland.
“What we are seeing in my county right now is that developers are coming in and asking for 50 acres to put up a solar wind farm. They are not asking to put this up on a brownfield or a highway median. They want to put wind and solar on good farmland. If the developers got their way in all my surrounding townships, we would have 12,000 acres of solar on some of the best farmland in the United States. It’s monstrous.”
I go back to the joke:
Q: “When is an environmentalist not an environmentalist?”
A: “When it comes to industrial wind turbines.”
And the same can be said of solar arrays. But we live in an inverted world where plentiful, affordable, reliable energy is the enemy, and energy sprawl/industrialization of pristine areas are the friend. And where “green” is money, not living green.
Future historians will need to sort out the so-called environmentalists’ pact with the devil.
 This funding insinuation prompted this email warning from Martis to Gittleman:
“I am very unhappy with your insinuations about my “funding.” You suggest, with no supporting documentation, that I am financially tied to fossil fuel interests. As I made clear to you, that is false. I am deeply offended that out of all the people you spoke with, I am the only person whose funding you even referenced.
Ed Rivet and MCEF and actually funded by fossil fuel utilities. But you never even raised the issue with them.
And the other entities you interview are funded by the renewable energy interests. Any surprise they think wind and solar are great? I have hoped that by being earnest and direct with you, I would avoid the ad hominem attack.
Sadly, that is not the case. I think I deserve a correction of this issue. As you can see from letters I have attached, I take my good name and reputation very seriously.
Sincerely, Kevon Martis