JESSICA ROBERTSON and Daniel Berwick would be well-advised to take the advice they offer in their recent opinion piece that we should “shift the conversation from where solar shouldn’t go to where it should.”
Borrego Solar, the company that employs them, must withdraw its current plans for another 200 acres of ground-mounted solar in the town of Wareham – and urge the town to put the brakes on the additional 1,500 acres proposed on pristine Pine Barrens forests.
In southeastern Massachusetts, Borrego Solar is responsible for the deforestation and obliteration of at least 300 acres of globally rare Pine Barrens forests – one of three on earth. Worse yet, earth removal operations to “prepare the sites” for Borrego’s land-based solar have removed millions of cubic yards of topsoil and sand, which has been shipped off site for commercial sale by Borrego’s partner, AD Makepeace, a real estate and “industrial strip mining company.” The Plymouth Carver sole source aquifer is now deprived of the soil, sand, and forests that filter the groundwater that supplies seven towns with drinking water. Rare and threatened plant and animal species have been obliterated.
Borrego’s strategy of teaming up with AD Makepeace to denude vast areas of fragile Pine Barrens forest, scraping it down to white sand, resetting the ecosystem to where it was after the glacier retreated — is the epitome of solar gone wrong.
Mass Audubon and others are sounding the alarm and exposing the horrifying deforestation of Massachusetts across the state – about 4,000 acres for ground mounted solar. The trend is accelerating under misguided state energy subsidies and the call for “electrification of everything.” Electrification of the grid with ground-mounted solar that destroys forests and threatens water supplies is a fool’s mission.
For Borrego Solar to opine that “solar is cheap and readily available, so what are we waiting for,” reflects the company’s hubris and shocking ignorance about its activities. Until Borrego can acknowledge the destruction it has caused and withdraws its plans for Wareham, it should be barred from taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies that allow it to claim that producing this electricity is “cheap.” Borrego must walk the talk before we as Massachusetts residents underwrite more of its destruction of our environmental and cultural heritage.
The state’s decarbonization roadmap promoting ground-mounted solar without robust, enforceable siting regulations belongs in the trash heap with other false solutions to the climate crisis — like the hundreds of thousands of Borrego Solar panels called “junk” by AD Makepeace CEO Jim Kane that have obliterated biodiversity hotspots in the Pine Barrens of Southeastern Massachusetts.
Margaret E. Sheehan is a volunteer with Save the Pine Barrens, Inc.