ground mounted solar array

Debunking Misinformation About Distributed Solar Generation

Tuesday 03, October 2023

Author: Sammy Brainard, Senior Development Associate – Greenfield Project Development, EDPR NA Distributed Generation

Corn and soybeans. That’s the landscape you’re likely to see all the way to the horizon in rural Ohio, which is where I found myself just last week – with a neighbor of one of our proposed Distributed Generation (DG) solar projects in the state. More than just comprising the landscape, farming is a way of life in this community, and it has been so for generations. As solar developers, we are certainly new neighbors by comparison.


Weighing Changes and Opportunities

We seek to spread awareness about the many benefits of solar energy whenever possible, which is why our DG Development team has been on the road this fall, meeting with landowners and community leaders across Ohio. Our goal is to address comments, questions, and concerns from folks who live in the communities of the solar projects we have under development. We want to answer some of the most asked questions we receive from community members in hopes of engaging in productive dialogue.

One important note: a key distinction of our distributed generation projects is that they are much smaller than our utility-scale counterparts; most of our Ohio DG projects are about 5MWac in capacity, typically only involve a single landowner, and located on fewer than 50 acres of land.


Commonly Received Questions


Question 1: What will the solar project look like? Will there be any impact on the view?

Our solar projects utilize several methods of visual screening to block the view from directly neighboring homes and parcels of land. The first method is related to siting: we abide by the setback requirements imposed by the Township or County, which typically require setbacks of 50+ feet from the perimeter of the parcel of land hosting the solar to neighboring homes and roads. We will work with the project landowner to determine the most optimal location for the array, siting away from neighboring residences wherever possible. Next, we build a safety fence around the array, which is typically an agriculture fence, screening the solar project from its neighbors in a manner consistent with that of the surrounding landscape. The final step is to develop a landscape screening plan with our environmental consultants, who determine the most optimal, native species to use for vegetative planting.

Question 2: Are there any negative health impacts caused by solar projects?

There are no negative health impacts caused by solar projects, according to a study made by North Carolina State University.1 All of us are surrounded by electronics, electromagnetic frequencies and radio frequencies every day. If your concerns are specific to devices like pacemakers, the key to staying safe around such devices is keeping a safe distance.2 Solar facilities generate electro-magnetic fields similar to household appliances within close proximity, which dissipate with increasing distance and pose no health risk to neighboring residents. There is no known mechanism within the type of electromagnetic frequencies produced by similar devices like electrical appliances, power lines, and smart meters that could cause cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. 

The components used in solar panels are safe, tested, and solid, so they do not leak. Silicon-based PV cells are the most widespread solar photovoltaic technology. Silicon, the second-most common element on earth, is found in most consumer electronics, from cell phones to computer chips. Panels use a fully sealed technology which blocks trace metals from entering surrounding soils, even if cracked – similar to a windshield. If a hailstorm or tornado comes through, any broken panels will be replaced and properly disposed. It is in our best interest to replace them promptly, as a broken panel will not be generating electricity. 


Question 3: Will there be any impact to my property value if I live near a renewable energy producer?

A 2020 study published by the University of Rhode Island found that, while some negative land valuation could exist for solar park developments in non-rural areas where “green space” is considered limited, those negative-impact factors are not present in rural communities where “green space” is more abundantly available.3 The core neighborhood factors that impact property values are sound, smell, traffic, and view. Solar arrays are essentially silent outside the project boundary line and do not draw additional traffic to the area, nor do they produce any odor. How they look is a matter of opinion, but most projects include some combination of fencing and vegetative screening that helps obscure the project from neighbors and roadways.


Working Together

The above questions are the most common questions I receive as a developer, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. We recognize that solar development does change a portion of the landscape, and change can be challenging! However, these changes, like many in the past, will benefit many individuals, families, and communities in many ways. We want to make every community comfortable with our presence, and that is why we are willing to talk through concerns about our projects at any time. If you have additional questions about our DG solar projects, in Ohio or elsewhere across the US, please reach out – we’re always happy to help.


Samantha Brainard
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1 Cleveland, Tommy. Health and Safety Impacts of Solar Photovoltaics - North Carolina State ..., 2017,

2 “Living with a Pacemaker.” National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2022,

3 Vasundhara Gaur and Corey Lang Department of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics University of Rhode Island,