2017 Study Revealed Impacts of Solar Development in Massachusetts

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Called for changing state subsidies to avoid loss of forests, wetlands, Indigenous sites

Revised state SMART solar regulations did nothing to improve th solar siting – forests, wetlands still being destroyed in 2022

Local governments at the front lines of the assault on our environment by corporate solar developers

In 2017, Environment Watch of Southeastern Massachusetts released Loss of Open Space, Cultural Resources & Community Character Caused by Industrial Ground-Mounted Solar Energy Systems in Massachusetts.

This report was a groundbreaking look at the impacts of the state’s solar programs from the perspective of local communities bearing the brunt of water pollution deforestation, loss of real estate value, Indigenous cultural sites and reduced property values.

The report calls for state regulatory oversight and a stop to Department of Energy Resources (DOER) subsidies for large solar projects that destroyed carbon-sequestering forests, wetlands, farmland and cultural sites. Since 2017, DOER has failed to implement responsible solar siting regulations.

One of the most egregious sites in the 2017 study is from Plymouth where REDP obliterated 25 acres of a globally rare Pine Barrens forest. This made the Solar Wall of Shame.

The Massachusetts Environmental Protection Act (MEPA) office continues to refuse to required Solar Tariff Generation Units (STGU) approved under the SMART solar subsidy program to undergo MEPA review. In January 2022, MEPA ruled that even when STGUs meet or exceed thresholds they are not subject to environmental review because the the statements of qualification (SOQs) issued by DOER are not “permits” and there is no state “financial assistance.” This is a legally indefensible position

In 2021 MassAudubon and Clark University reported that 4,000 acres have been lost to industrial scale solar in Massachusetts.

The 2017 Report is available here:

Table of Contents of 2017 Solar Report by the Environmental Watch of Southeastern Massachusetts

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