Why residents are worried about proposed North Country solar farm

Published: Apr. 13, 2018 at 5:13 PM EDT
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A controversy over the possibility of massive solar farms in the Adirondacks. Last week, we showed you a town in Franklin County looking to become greener by welcoming alternative energy. Since then, we have received numerous calls saying massive solar farms are anything but green.

"Anything that could develop and bring some money into the town, we're in favor of," Chateaugay Town Supervisor Donald Bilow told us then.

Chateaugay placed a six-month moratorium on siting solar farms so the town could get regulations in place and start potentially making deals with solar companies.

Since that story ran, other residents in Franklin County have reached out saying they don't think this is a good idea at all. One of those callers was Mike Fournier with Friends Against Rural Mismanagement.

"I don't know what else to tell you, it's total destruction," Fournier said.

Fournier doesn't think people realize what 950 acres actually looks like.

"To give you perspective, 950 acres is equivalent to around 1,000 football fields," Fournier said.

So we hopped on his four-wheeler and left his property. His home is in the center of where Franklin Solar wants to build a 950-acre solar farm. It took 45 minutes to cover all the land spanning across Route 11 and Route 30, right along the Adirondack scenic highway.

"Nobody is going to come here to see a 1,000-acre industrial solar complex. It's not a farm again, don't let them fool you," Fournier said.

Fournier says he isn't against solar or renewable energy but he is against major solar farms. He argues this is some of the best farmland in the area and lots of panels would harm animals that live here. He also says people will leave.

"I will move," he said. "I will absolutely move. There is no way I could survive being surrounded again where I am there. When I come out my driveway and I head into town, it's going to be like living in a compound."

Fournier says the people live in Franklin County for the outdoor rural lifestyle.

"Exactly, there's a lot of people that live in Malone that could afford to live other places, they choose to just because of the serenity," he said.

Fournier says Franklin Solar is still only in phase one and it's not clear if their 950-acre solar farm will be built.