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Crawford Pushes Back on Pattern Energy Solar PlanLock Icon

2 min read

First District Congressman Rick Crawford believes farmland is for farms, and he doesn’t mean solar farms.

“There’s a push to put large-scale solar arrays on some of our most productive farmland, and that’s having an impact on land rent and land values when [solar developers] pay an inordinate amount to the landowner,” Crawford told Whispers on Tuesday. “We could easily place these solar panels on conservation easements. That would be more cost-effective, more environmentally friendly and much more consumer friendly,” considering the crops that would continue to grow on acreage.

Crawford was speaking specifically against a plan by Pattern Energy of San Francisco to build a solar array near Marion and West Memphis on land developed to be commercial. But he also voiced his dismay generally over the Biden administration’s multibillion-dollar push for solar power.

“I’m all about market-based solutions, but what we’re seeing here is the federal government making decisions about who wins … and who loses.”

He said the city of West Memphis had made a significant investment in putting 10-inch water lines and 12-inch sewer lines onto some of the land Pattern has optioned. “Obviously, this is something a solar farm doesn’t need.” He said economic developers wanted the land to be used in commercial transport, and for bringing industry and jobs to Crittenden County.

“This land is at the crossroads of I-40 and I-55, the Mississippi River and the largest intermodal rail hub in hundreds of miles. And yet, they decided they would rather make different use of it. Quite frankly, I think this is way too much squeeze for very little juice. Solar isn’t cost efficient. It’s why it has to be subsidized to the extent that it is … I’m for renewables. I’m not a big fan of solar. The footprint is extraneous. And I think this is not making the highest and best use of that land by any stretch.”

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