solar power

Solar and wind farms generate controversy but occupy a sliver of rural land

Local governments have imposed at least 2,600 restrictions on wind and solar power projects in their jurisdictions, with local opposition seeming to rise with the size of the project, said a USDA report on wind and solar development in rural areas. Wind and solar projects had a combined footprint of 423,974 acres in 2020, or 0.05 percent of the nation's 870 million acres of farmland, said the four economists who wrote the report.

Substantial oil, gas, and wind payments go to a sliver of farmers

A fraction of U.S. farmers, about 3.5 percent, receive payments for oil, gas, and wind energy production on their land, and those payments provide “substantial income,” said a USDA report. With the growth of wind and solar energy, a wider array of farmers could benefit from the payments, now centered in the Great Plains, said the Economic Research Service.

Opinion: How farmers can be at the forefront of the climate solution

More than a half century after the first Earth Day, with our planet in worse shape than it’s ever been, the challenge of slowing global warming and the environmental, economic and social devastation underway can sometimes feel like too much — too expensive, too complicated and too politically divisive to overcome. But when we wake up every morning in rural Marion County, Iowa, we aren’t filled with despair. We’re filled with hope in a revolutionary idea: that farmers will help mitigate climate damage that farmers will help mitigate climate damage if we pay them to make their operations more resilient and sustainable. (No paywall)

Grassley sees wind, solar phase-down where Pruitt wants a cut off

Although EPA administrator Scott Pruitt favors elimination of tax credits for wind and solar power, he isn't calling the shots for the administration, said Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the No. 2 state in wind-generated electricity. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin "will be in the room when these agreements are made," said Grassley, a member of the tax-writing Finance Committee, and Mnuchin backs an ongoing phase-down of wind and solar tax credits."

USDA releases $300 million for rural energy efficiency

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $300 million in loans and grants to help small businesses switch to more energy efficient equipment and renewable energy sources such as solar panels. "Cutting energy waste is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to help families save money on their energy bills while reducing carbon pollution," said Vilsack.

Solar-powered farm desalinates seawater to grow tomatoes

Sundrop Farm, a 20-hectare site near Port Augusta in the South Australian desert, is "the first agricultural system of its kind in the world and uses no soil, pesticides, fossil fuels or groundwater," says New Scientist. The farm runs on solar-generated electricity and desalinates seawater that is piped 5.5 km to the farm, which the news site says "might be the face of farming in the future."

Rural electric co-ops take role in solar energy initiative

More than 90 member-owned rural electric cooperatives in 16 states committed to install community solar projects by the end of 2017, said the White House in announcing an initiative to expand solar power and improve energy efficiency across the nation.

An economic irony: Solar farm boom, biomass gloom

"More than trees have withered in California's sun. The state's biomass energy plants are folding in rapid succession, unable to compete with heavily subsidized solar farms, many of which have sprouted up amid the fields and orchards of the San Joaquin Valley," reports the Los Angeles Times.

Drive to renew tax ‘extenders’ stretches into final weeks

Lawmakers are "headed for another last-minute, end-of-the-year renewal" of five-dozen tax breaks that expired at the end of 2014, reports Agri-Pulse, which quotes House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy as saying, "In these situations, it's always coming down to the last week to see what mix we're able to get."