Standing up for solar

The world has felt the burden of climate change ever since the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, and greenhouse gas emissions have been rising at an alarming rate. Our increasing dependence on cars, fast fashion, online shopping deliveries, and hence, fossil fuels, is forcing our planet to pay the price. Scientists have been scrambling to find renewable energy sources, with solar power being a promising alternative. 

Solar farms, which convert sunlight into electricity with photovoltaic (PV) technology, have been springing up around the globe as communities strive to do their part to combat climate change. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States contains over 2,500 utility-scale solar PV facilities (as of 2019). Manlius has been eager to join this growing number of solar-supported villages.

The Town of Manlius has been considering two PV solar farms over the past year: a 240 acre layout on Duguid Road and an 86 acre layout on Salt Springs Road. The projects, which would be built on unused farmland, would allow residents to reduce their electricity bills by switching to solar power. 

Despite the many benefits of the solar farms, however, there has been some considerable pushback due to concerns of obstructed views and decreased home values. A crucial Manlius Town Board meeting on July 28th was scheduled to decide on a six month solar moratorium, which would prevent the approval of new solar projects or the furthering of current ones. So, on that fateful Wednesday evening, FM Youth for Climate Justice (FM YCJ) marched into the meeting determined to stand up for solar power and stand up for their futures.

Students stood outside with banners, posters, and persistence, as they rallied together to educate their community about the weight of this decision. They lined the room with fact sheets to dismiss any misconceptions about solar energy. They recognized that the world can’t wait any longer – that the time to act was now. Elena Pacheco from FM YCJ said, “The moratorium felt dangerous to us as youth because we don’t really have time. We decided to rally around it and show Manlius that youth care about this – that this is our future.” In the end, the students of FM YCJ were successful in their mission. The moratorium was voted down, allowing for future action in regard to solar power in Manlius. 

FM Youth for Climate Justice has many more plans for the future in regards to solar power and the larger issue of climate change. “We need to be switching off of fossil fuels immediately and that needs to happen on every scale, Manlius included. There were concerns about pollution, toxicity, and home values, and we wanted to be really clear that solar farms are a good thing,” said Pacheco, who encourages people to reach out to them via Instagram (@fm.ycj) if interested in joining in the fight against climate change.