NIMBY is the acronym for “not in my back yard,” a phrase that arose back in the early 1980s to describe landowners' opposition to the siting of a nuclear-waste dump near their neighborhood.

But we've heard the term NIMBY used in recent times to describe neighbors' opposition to renewable-energy projects — from wind farms (which we can understand) to solar parks.

“Solar park,” we've learned, is the proper description — or at least is preferred by advocates over “solar farm,” although given that most of these facilities are being planned for rural areas, we think it might be hard to get used to a “park” over a “farm.”

“Park” has a distinctly urban connotation.

There's a good chance Knox County will be home to at least one solar park within the next couple of years.

There was talk about a prospective park at this week's Area Plan Commission meeting, and the Knox County Development Corp. has been hinting around about a possible farm (sic) for some time now.

A lot of us got our introduction to solar power during the energy crisis of the mid-'70s, when OPEC raised the price of oil and the federal government began to encourage alternative sources of power to warm our homes in winter and cool them in summer.

Those expensive, inefficient panels which thousands of worried homeowners rushed to install on their roofs (and soon came to loath) are nothing like the panels now in production — either in cost or especially in efficiency.

Now that coal is losing out in the marketplace we're again looking at alternative energy sources, and just as southwestern Indiana was once a good source of coal, it's now turned out to be a prime midwestern location for solar generation.

Indiana as a whole continues to move up in the national rankings for solar-based energy production, moving up five spots to 23rd last year.

Granted, overall generation isn't great, less than 400 megawatts; to put that into perspective, Duke Energy's Edwardsport plant generates 630MW on its own.

But in the next five years another 1,800MW are expected to come online, and that may be a conservative prediction. That 1,800MW, by the way, is almost twice the electricity generated by Hoosier Energy's coal-fired Merom plant, which is scheduled to close in 2023.

Knox County was once a leader in coal-generated electricity. It could just as easily become No. 1 in solar production — if we can avoid too much NIMBYism.

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