Solar and wind companies are coming to rural Texas.
Texas locals are concerned about environmental harm from renewable energy facilities and support a bill that would impose more regulations. The industry says it’s being unfairly singled out.
FRANKLIN COUNTY — Volunteer firefighter Jim Emery grew emotional as he spoke to the crowd at an anti-solar development town hall meeting in his northeast Texas community. Emery, who worked for decades at the nearby coal power plant before it closed in 2018, didn’t worry then about pollution from the plant.
But now, the fear of storage batteries catching on fire at a solar facility grip the 67-year-old.
“I’ve been in the fire department since we started in ’76, and this scares me more than anything I’ve ever been involved with,” Emery told roughly 50 people gathered in a local coffee shop called Penelope’s in Mount Vernon, the county seat. “We need to stop it. I don’t know how we can. But we don’t need solar power in Franklin County at all.”
People cheered and whistled. Someone shouted, “Amen!”
A community meeting attendee reacts to “before” and “after” photos of land purchased for solar projects. Credit: Evan L’Roy/The Texas Tribune
Credit: Evan L'Roy / Texas Tribune
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