Frequently Asked Questions
Solar farms use conventional solar panels just like those installed on the roofs of homes and businesses. This well-established technology has been around for decades.
When sunlight hits a solar panel, the electrons in the solar panel’s semi‐conducting material become energized and create an electric current.
The electricity from solar farms goes onto the high‐voltage electrical grid that supplies power to everyone. This is different from rooftop solar panels, which mostly deliver power only to the building they’re installed on.
No. Innovation and competition have dramatically reduced the cost of solar in recent years. In many areas, solar now costs about the same or less than traditional sources.
No. Not only are solar farms cost‐effective, but they supply wholesale power, which doesn’t directly affect your retail rates.
All types of power generation (including coal, gas, hydro and nuclear power) receive economic benefits from certain federal policy incentives, and solar is no exception.
No. Solar panels are one of the least intrusive and cleanest forms of power generation available. Access to solar farm equipment will be restricted to maintenance personnel.
Solar panels are made of glass, aluminum, silicon (refined sand), and semi‐conducting material. The glass is designed to withstand hail and is tempered, like the windshields of cars, and therefore resists breakage.
Solar panels contain very small amounts of some chemicals, but they are encased within the panel. There are no liquids in the panels. Most solar panels can be disposed of in regular landfills just like household garbage.
All electric lines and equipment, including the lines to homes and businesses and home appliances, create EMF. Research to date has not found any link between EMF and health problems.
Land Use & Farming
Very little. In flat areas, little earth‐moving is needed for solar farms because the steel piles for the panels are installed directly through the top soil.
Almost none. The steel piles for panels generally have no foundations and most other equipment is installed on gravel pads, prefabricated concrete, or metal skids. Fence posts usually have small foundations.
Much less than half. Solar panels are spaced apart to prevent shading and allow room for inspections and maintenance of equipment and maintenance of the grounds.
Solar farms are required to implement erosion and sediment controls during construction and, prior to operation, they must obtain a stormwater management permit that implements an approved Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan to protect the environment and neighbors.
Absolutely. A study by N.C. State University found that solar has only short‐term impacts on productivity and is a “viable way to preserve land for potential future farming.”
Drain tile would be located and preserved during construction to the extent possible. When a solar farm is decommissioned, any affected drain tile systems would be restored.
Solar farms have very low profiles, follow the natural contour of the land, and can be effectively screened with rows of trees and large shrubs, especially in flat areas.
The “high ends” of solar panels usually are 8‐12 feet from the ground and are surrounded by a fence at least 6 feet tall.
Yes. In flat areas, preserving any existing vegetation and planting a row of evergreen trees and large shrubs can greatly enhance the views near neighbors’ homes and along busy roads.
Impacts to Neighbors
Because they have very few moving parts, solar farms come close to operating silently. Some of the equipment makes small sounds but cannot be heard by neighbors.
Virtually none. Motion‐activated and downward facing lights are located only at gates and at some equipment.
Solar panels are designed to absorb, not reflect, sunlight. In fact, they reflect much less light than glass or water. All but about 2% of the sunlight is absorbed and converted to electricity.
Virtually none. After construction is complete, a few workers in pick‐up trucks will inspect and maintain the equipment, maintain vegetation, and occasionally may clean the panels with water.
Construction & Decommissioning
Construction of most solar farms takes from 6 to 12 months, which is much faster than traditional power sources.
After the productive life of the panels, which is 35‐40 years, the solar farm will be “decommissioned” and the land returned to its current condition.
If an owner went bankrupt, it is very likely that a new owner would take over. Solar farms are expensive to build, but reliable and very cheap to operate. So, there are strong incentives to continue a solar farm’s operations.
A financial security, such as a bond, is required to ensure funds are always available for decommissioning and restoration of the land.