Solar panels over a parking lot. Lou Stejskal

Instead of putting solar panels on farmland, place those panels on mall parking lots. How many times have you wished that you could find a cool place to park your car or have not wanted to scape off the ice from your windshield yet again when you come out from the grocery store?

The black asphalt parking lots store heat during the day and release that heat at night, contributing to the rise in night time temperatures.  Correctly designed raised solar panels would provide shade for cars, cut some of the snow plowing and de-icing costs.

There are acres of parking lots in Connecticut and a dwindling supply of productive farm fields. The heat and drought this summer has caused a short supply of needed hay. Surely the legislature can figure out a fair way of trading the rights to develop farm fields with the value of raised solar fields in parking lots.

Trading development rights would save the farm fields while contributing back the monetary value of the development rights to the farmer and encouraging the use of parking lots for solar. Complex yes – but it can be done.

Ruth Cutler lives in Ashford.

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