Town Rejects Solar Panels That Would ‘Suck up All the Energy From the Sun’

A North Carolina town council approved a sweeping moratorium on solar power development after residents expressed fears that solar panels cause cancer and drain the sun’s energy, which would leave their town dark and devoid of plant life.

The Woodland Town Council was meeting to re-zone land for a proposed solar power project from Strata Solar Company. During the meeting, a retired science teacher raised concerns that “photosynthesis, which depends upon sunlight, would not happen and would keep the plants from growing,” local newspaper The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald reports.

She attempted to substantiate to her claim by adding that she had “observed areas near solar panels where the plants are brown and dead because they did not get enough sunlight.”

According to fact-checking website Politifact, a widely distributed story on a satirical news website claimed that solar panels “not only convert the sun’s energy into usable energy, but [also drain] the sun of its own energy, possibly with catastrophic consequences far worse than global warming.” The report cited a “scientific white paper” from the non-existent Wyoming Institute of Technology.

The website’s satirical nature was not clearly labeled and, despite being quickly debunked, the article gained traction and was circulated widely in early 2014.

During the town meeting, the resident also implied that solar farms could be linked to the high number of cancer deaths in the area.

Data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shows that cancer mortality rates dropped significantly in Northampton County between 1999 and 2013.

Prior to last week’s ruling, the town had approved three solar power projects, one of which is already under construction.

This article originally appeared on on December 14, 2015