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Solar farm hopes to be environmentally friendly
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Solar farm hopes to be environmentally friendly

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By Bill Frazer
Correspondent

Three hundred years ago, windmills and watermills provided the energy needed for industry such as milling flour, sawing wood or pumping water, and burning wood or peat provided domestic heat. However, the Industrial Revolution would have never happened if fossil fuels had not been discovered. Coal and then petroleum were used to fire up the steam engines that brought about the great American enterprise. Natural gas also contributed.

Unfortunately, use of these fossil fuels come at a great cost—air pollution, soil and water contamination, and some say global warming, to name a few. Our dependence on oil also can make us extremely vulnerable to unfriendly governments who have a large supply. And coal and petroleum and natural gas are non-renewable. One day, they will run out.

So a lot of effort has been made to seek cleaner sources of energy. With the latest research and developments, solar energy has become more efficient and more cost effective. And it does not add carbon monoxide to the atmosphere. The solar farm in LaFayette, Alabama, which will provide cleaner power, was also very diligent in its construction phase to greatly lessen the impact to the environment.

For example:
Miles of erosion fences have been built around the total acreage of the farm where soil is being relocated.

Metal mats have been installed that tend to shake the mud off of the vehicles where the solar farm traffic enters the public road.

Thirteen miles of six foot fencing topped with 3 strands of barb wire have been built around the 8 fields of the solar farm. By fencing only the paneled areas, all the drains and open acres subject to shade and rock outcroppings will be left for wildlife and natural environmental conditions. Actually, if only the 1100 acres were fenced, 6 miles would fence the solar farm.

A water truck constantly moves through the solar farm spraying the roads to avoid the work area becoming a dust bowl.

It is almost unbelievable the recycling efforts carried out reference the waste materials on the farm. There are thousands of cardboard containers that the solar panels were shipped in, tons of plastic wrapping around the rolls of cables, wooden pallets and wooden rolls as well as metal components of torque tubes and piers. All of these items are placed in the appropriate on-site bin and transported to recycling sites.

The topography on the solar farm has been designed to allow all the rainwater to drain into sediment ponds which allow settlement of the pollutants.

A network of interior roads have been built which will allow access to the site through two gates off the Cusseta Road (County Road 83).

The fenced areas of the solar farm will be seeded to grass to preserve soil erosion as well as to have a favorable aesthetic view of the landscape.

All stream crossings within the solar farm acreage have pipes installed that are large enough to accommodate flood conditions.

Rather than burned, the thousands of uprooted stumps were ground into small bits and used as a mulch to control erosion on the slopes to be grassed

Even though adhering to all the methods of construction that preserve the natural habitat, it is impossible to move millions of yards of red dirt without some discoloration of the road surface. But credit should be to owners and contractors that utilized all the available means to make this as pollution free a project as possible. To carry out all these environmental precautions, the owners have expended millions of dollars that could been avoided if they had taken short cuts in pollution control.
But make no mistake, the world will create pollution in the environment with the burning of fossil fuels. At some time, not in our life time, fossil fuel sources will be exhausted and solar farms will be the salvation of our source of energy.