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Letter: Reader supports new solar development


I’m excited that Montgomery County will be home to a new solar development, and will be a part of the clean energy future.

The increased tax base will be a great asset — agricultural land is valued at $1,250 per acre while solar is about $13,000 — and the Cold Spring development on the Montgomery/Putnam County border is projected to add $40 million to the two counties’ coffers over its lifetime. Renewable energy can also draw in new employers, as it did with Tempur Sealy.

Montgomery County farmland is no stranger to energy production — 40% of U.S. corn acreage goes straight to ethanol — but solar will be a great leap forward in cleanliness and efficiency. It generates 30 times the energy per acre as corn-based ethanol and has no emissions or soil or fertilizer runoff. Also, as solar and wind displace coal and gas generation, we stand to benefit from cleaner air, higher crop yields and better health. Per a study from the University of California, San Diego, the decline in coal burning at U.S. power plants from 2005-2016 already saved 26,610 lives and 570M bushels of corn, wheat and soy. And we still have a long way to go and a lot more benefits to reap, especially here in coal-heavy Indiana.

Finally, solar is cheap. The International Energy Agency said it’s the cheapest way to generate electricity in history, while prices for coal and gas have been skyrocketing. At August 2022 market prices, it cost $66 per megawatt-hour for gas-fired electricity just for the fuel, while solar’s all-in lifetime cost is $30-40. Every ton of coal or BTU of gas that solar or wind keeps electricity prices down, saving our air and our money.

John Smillie





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