Thursday, January 10, 2013

Response to http://upperstclair.patch.com/articles/public-hearing-set-for-new-solar-panel-ordinance

This post is a response to an article about new solar ordinances affecting Western PA which can be found here http://upperstclair.patch.com/articles/public-hearing-set-for-new-solar-panel-ordinance



Roger,  Act 13 was the states attempt to overstep Municipal Rights by forcing the states will on the people.  It is your township and should be your townships residents decision how drilling is handled.  Not the state.  The state does not have to weigh the risks of poisoned water, directly deal with the impact of dramatic increases in truck traffic clogging thoroughfares and damaging township maintained roads, the state does not have to look upon the wells dotting the landscape, it doesn't have to wonder if the 3 acre waste water storage ponds that will sit beside the well heads for the next 50+ years are leaking into their local streams and contaminating the water their kids play in and drink, the state doesn’t have to wonder if they will ever cleanup and remediate the ground next to their homes when they abandon the wells 50 years from now like the abandoned strip mines and oil rigs that dot our landscape today.  I know I have three derelict oil wells between my house and my kid’s school 1 mile away, rusting abandoned eyesores that are a dangerous for my kids to be anywhere near.

The big difference is that beyond aesthetics, solar affects no one other than the immediate property owner.  Drilling affects the entire community.  Whether you believe the hype from the environmentalists or the propaganda from the drilling company this fact remains the same.  It affects us all as a community and therefore its regulations should be determined by those in the community and not some guy in Harrisburg or Washington.  

Groundwater affects my kids.  Leaking abandoned oil wells causes ground water poisoning, leaking abandoned coalmines cause ground water poisoning, leaking fracking operations cause ground water poisoning…

…leaking solar arrays cause suntans.  I will take the suntan any day.

The solar ordinance is in no way perfect and as a solar installer I am not happy with some of the things in it but without it we have no certainty whether we can build on someone’s home, whether the permit fee will be $50 or $1500 until we apply for it and currently have to sort through different interpretations to a myriad of different codes intended for other types of property improvements to see what will or will not be enforced in each solar job.  It is kind of like Russian Roulette when we sign a contract, we may have a $65 municipal cost and a 2 day job or we may have a $1500 municipal cost and an 8 month ordeal with hundreds of hours wasted at zoning hearings for installing something that should be looked at like an HVAC compressor or a swingset.  

We have built over 100 local solar arrays and we never know what to expect until we go to pull the permit.  This is what the ordinance is attempting to ‘improve.’  However, an easier way would be to simply look at solar as what it is, an accessory use item and just blanket allow it like any other accessory use structure you want to put on your property.  Every municipality already has accessory use ordinances on their books.  I see no reason why a solar array should be treated any differently than a swingset or an HVAC compressor.

Joe Morinville
Energy Independent Solutions
www.eissolar.com

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