Brian Pugh: Planning for our renewable energy future.

To the Editor:

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Over the summer, the Village has received two proposals for “community solar” projects (one of these was discussed at the 6/12/17 work session at length).  At last week’s Work Session our Village Board of Trustees began the discussion about adopting a local law for governing community, commercial and utility-scale solar projects within the Village.

 

A community solar project—sometimes referred to as a solar garden or shared renewable energy plant—is a solar power plant shared by more than one household.

 

Only about half of the country’s homes and businesses can host solar on their own roofs, because of shade and other limiting factors, according to the US Department of Energy. In 2015, NY joined the growing number of states allowing for community shared solar.

 

Some experts predict by 2020, the US can install between 5.5 and 11 gigawatts of shared solar, enough to power between 900,000 and 1.8 million homes.  This will make solar much more accessible for those living in multifamily housing, tenants and homes that are not physically suited to host solar power.

 

Traditional rooftop mounted residential solar power systems are already permitted in our Village as an “accessory use” to residential property.  By adopting a local law on larger solar power systems, our Village can provide regulatory certainty for property owners and installers and facilitate the generation of more renewable power while ensuring that these projects do not  cause undue burdens on the community.

 

As concerns about greenhouse gas emissions increase, electricity prices rise (especially with the planned closure of Indian Point) and renewable energy technology further matures, community shared solar power projects and other green power initiatives will grow in importance.  Local government should work proactively to ensure that this energy revolution serves the public interest.

 

Sincerely,

 

Brian Pugh

 

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