Letter To the Editor- Cypress Creek Responds to C. Bryan

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views  and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser. 

Cypress Creek Renewables appreciates Carol H. Bryan’s Nov. 2 letter sharing concerns regarding our proposed solar power project along Ouzts Road. However, most of the claims in Ms. Bryan’s letter were false and unsubstantiated. Cypress Creek is committed to being transparent throughout the development process and will ensure all interested stakeholders have access to all relevant project information backed by the latest research. 

First, while the solar farm is proposed on 1,220 acres, we estimate that the final area with solar panels will be about 40% smaller than that, at roughly 750 acres. 

In regard to hazardous materials, while some silicon-based solar panels do use a lead-based solder, the lead volume is very small, and it is all durably and safely encapsulated for the full life of the panel. And while cadmium telluride (CdTe) panels do contain a tiny amount of cadmium, research has shown that the amount of cadmium in these panels does not pose a public health or safety risk. Of note, even damaged modules generally remain together as one piece and do not disintegrate or create small pieces of debris. 

Natural disasters and fires also pose little risk to solar farms. Only a small portion of the materials in solar panels is flammable, and these components cannot support a significant fire. Also, local building codes require all structures, including ground-mounted solar arrays, to be engineered to withstand anticipated local wind speeds.  

We share in Ms. Bryan’s concern about endangered wildlife. To that end, we commissioned an independent biological assessment of the entire project area which concluded that Turkey Creek contains suitable habitat for the Carolina heelsplitter. In response, we have reached out to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with a proposal for how to safely avoid disrupting this habitat, and we are committed to finding the best path forward, including vegetation buffers needed to support the Carolina heelsplitter. No other endangered species or their habitat were found on the proposed project site.

Regarding end-of-life-management, Europe has had great success recycling solar modules, and some such programs exist in the United States; a US manufacturer, First Solar, recently achieved 90% recyclability of their panels. We expect that by the time Caddis Solar is decommissioned, recycling will be commonplace, and the solar panels will be able to be recycled. In a worst-case scenario, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined that solar panels are safe to dispose of in landfill. 

To demonstrate Cypress Creek’s commitment to transparency, I am available by email for any inquiries by community members related to this project or any research about solar modules and solar projects. 

-Ben Manuel, Sr. Project Developer, Cypress Creek Renewables. ben.manuel@ccrenew.com

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