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Supporters and foes of Greene County solar farm speak out

COXSACKIE — Almost half of the electricity from a proposed 400-acre solar farm here is under contract to go to Connecticut. That was one of the arguments by opponents of the Hecate Greene County Solar Facility during a virtual public statement session on the plan Tuesday before the state Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment.

Of the 50 megawatts envisioned in the project, 30 are allocated to projects with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority with 20 going to two buyers in Connecticut.

Those who oppose the project noted that the 20 MW in Connecticut wouldn’t help New York meet its ambitious carbon reduction goals, since the power would go out of state.

“We don’t want our landscape scarred so politicians in New York and Connecticut can brag about their green energy bonafides,” said Leslie Albright.

The developers see it differently. “Clean air and climate change don’t know state boundaries,” Gabe Wapner, Hecate Energy’s director of development, told the Times Union after the hearing.

He said that the Connecticut buyers came forward before New York to contract for the energy. Like other solar developers,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

COXSACKIE — Almost half of the electricity from a proposed 400-acre solar farm here is under contract to go to Connecticut. That was one of the arguments by opponents of the Hecate Greene County Solar Facility during a virtual public statement session on the plan Tuesday before the state Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment.

Of the 50 megawatts envisioned in the project, 30 are allocated to projects with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority with 20 going to two buyers in Connecticut.

Those who oppose the project noted that the 20 MW in Connecticut wouldn’t help New York meet its ambitious carbon reduction goals, since the power would go out of state.

“We don’t want our landscape scarred so politicians in New York and Connecticut can brag about their green energy bonafides,” said Leslie Albright.

The developers see it differently. “Clean air and climate change don’t know state boundaries,” Gabe Wapner, Hecate Energy’s director of development, told the Times Union after the hearing.

He said that the Connecticut buyers came forward before New York to contract for the energy. Like other solar developers, they needed energy sale commitments to move ahead.

The export also points to another reality about green power and climate change. While the New York projects are being prompted by the state’s 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which mandates sharp reductions in carbon emissions by 2030, other states have similar plans. Connecticut, for instance, has an executive order also calling for sharp reductions by 2030.

Aside from the export, opponents of the project say they worry about how it would impact real estate values as well as bird habitat.

Albright added that Hecate is planning another large solar farm, the Flint Mine project to the north of Greene County, in Albany County.

“There is no process to consider the siting of multiple plants in one community,” added Albright.

Other speakers, though, said they favor the plan due to its green energy, the revenue it would generate in the town and the benefits it would bring to the Sleepy Hollow Lake housing development.

By supplanting some of the cropland that surrounds the manmade Sleepy Hollow lake, the solar project would cut back some of the runoff that has created worries about algae blooms, said Kenneth Gifford, president of the Sleepy Hollow Lake Property Owners Association.

Several farmers and relatives of farmers who would lease property to the solar developer added that the revenue would allow them to continue farming, rather than sell their property off to developers. The area has seen a housing boomlet lately, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic sending New York City residents scrambling to buy homes upstate.

Others noted that the scenery and landscape of the region has changed over the years, from farmland to a more residential nature as people developed properties and built houses.

“My family has been on this land for several hundred years,” said farmer James Taylor, who favors the project and like several others spoke about his longstanding multi-generational roots in the community. “They never came and asked us if we like to look at all the houses built in the area,” he said, referring to those who have put up homes in recent years.

The Greene County project application was deemed  “complete” by the state’s siting board earlier in September and needs to be decided upon in a year’s time. Wapner said they hope to begin construction by the end of 2021.


Source: https://www.timesunion.com/...

SEP 30 2020
https://www.windaction.org/posts/52068-supporters-and-foes-of-greene-county-solar-farm-speak-out
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