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In this edition, we dive into the escalating fights against rural solar and wind farms, and the coordinated campaigns that are behind a lot of them.

When an energy company offered to lease 500 acres of Roger Houser’s property for a solar array, it seemed like a great idea. 

Houser’s ranching business in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley was struggling amid higher fuel and supply prices, and he could make more money leasing out the land, he told NPR and Floodlight. But soon after Houser got the energy company’s offer, a group called Citizens for Responsible Solar stepped in, launching a four-year fight against solar development in the rural county.

Citizens for Responsible Solar isn’t exactly a grassroots group organized by aggrieved neighbors. It was founded outside Washington, D.C., by longtime political operative Susan Ralston, who at first wanted to fight a solar farm near her home, and recruited fellow conservative insiders to join her.

While locals joined Citizens for Responsible Solar in opposing the solar farm on Houser’s property, it was Ralston who launched the campaign against it — and has spread the group’s solar-fighting agenda to campaigns and activists in at least 12 states, NPR and Floodlight report. 

While there are valid reasons to be concerned about a potential solar array, industry analysts say Citizens for Responsible Solar relies on misinformation about solar’s environmental and health effects and pushes the idea that solar energy is “unreliable.” And it’s all contributing to a broader movement against rural clean energy, much of it powered by fossil fuel and utility funding.

Read more from NPR and Floodlight’s investigation into Citizens for Responsible Solar.

More clean energy news

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👷‍♀️ A clean energy career boom: Researchers predict Inflation Reduction Act incentives could spur anywhere from 2,000 to 140,000 jobs in each state, with California, Texas and Florida expected to get the most. (Canary Media)

🌊 Flood risks are worse than we think: U.S. properties in flood-prone areas, especially those along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, are overvalued by as much as $237 billion amid growing flood risk, particularly putting low-income homeowners at risk. (Washington Post)

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☀️ The future of homegrown solar: A made-in-Ohio solar panel technology is poised to take off for three big reasons: It has become cheaper, more efficient, and doesn’t rely on materials from China. (Energy News Network)

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Kathryn brings her extensive editorial background to the Energy News Network team, where she oversees the early-morning production of ENN’s five email digest newsletters as well as distribution of ENN’s original journalism with other media outlets. From documenting chronic illness’ effect on college students to following the inner workings of Congress, Kathryn has built a broad experience in her more than five years working at major publications including The Week Magazine. Kathryn holds a Bachelor of Science in magazine journalism and information management and technology from Syracuse University.