By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Say no to Acciona
Public Forum.jpg

To the editor:

I was dismayed to see the Tribune’s “news” piece about a social event hosted by Great Bend Chamber of Commerce, in support of the Spanish-owned utility company Acciona Energia. Free drinks, free food, and a chance to chat up Acciona representatives touting their proposed Barton County solar farm project. This international corporation wants to glaze 2,000 acres of agricultural land at the southern edge of Cheyenne Bottoms with a sea of shining black panels right in the middle of the North American Central Flyway, traversed for centuries by millions of geese, ducks and other birds and designated an area of critical importance by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and international environmental groups. Resting, feeding, and nesting grounds will be obstructed; recent estimates of avian mortality in the vicinity of solar farms run to a quarter of a million birds a year. Those of us who cherish this unique and irreplaceable wetland and its wild inhabitants say: this is NOT the place for such a construction to be imposed. Acciona admits that when they bought the rights to develop this project, they knew nothing about the Bottoms, about Barton County, or the unique needs and values of this region.

As for economic benefits: this project is exempt from property taxes for 10 years, and any “payments in lieu of taxes” have to be negotiated with the company, piecemeal. Once the construction is done, there will be a couple dozen long-term jobs. This will hardly affect Barton County’s current 2.8% unemployment rate. The power generated by this project will be sold off to other states, other companies; it won’t be powering your stove or air conditioner or pump. The dollars from this deal go to Acciona, and to a handful of landowners in the immediate block of land south of the Bottoms.

I am perturbed that the Chamber of Commerce is supporting this ill-advised and over-hyped project. Meetings with the county commission and the planning and zoning committee have been packed with residents who don’t want this built: not on the borders of their property, not near Cheyenne Bottoms. We are not against solar energy; many of these same people have solar panels on their roofs, in their own fields. But thousands of acres should not be destroyed to line the pockets of a big foreign-owned company. Don’t let a couple free beers and pizza slices turn your head (are we that easily led?). Say no to Acciona.

Julie Stielstra