When William M. Buchan, the attorney who is working with the town and village of Canton on solar issues, told village trustees on April 19 that the odds of stopping EDF Renewables from installing a 1,700-acre solar project were “infinitesimally small,” he wasn’t telling anyone paying attention, something they didn’t already know.
New York state has an aggressive timetable for decarbonizing its electricity system. By 2030, the goal is to move toward 70% renewables. In 2040, the goal is 100% carbon-free electricity. By 2050, the goal is a carbon-neutral economy.
Those goals are not achievable with small projects.
It will take big projects built where transmission infrastructure is already in place to meet the short-term goals.
The 5-megawatt community solar projects won’t move the needle meaningfully.
As some have suggested, rooftops and parking lots could contribute locally or individually. Still, EDF is building here because they were able to find enough contiguous acreage near a transmission line to make the economics of their project work out.
If there is an abandoned 1,700-acre parking lot near a high-voltage transmission line somewhere, a solar energy company is likely eyeing it.
“The climate act says we have to decarbonize our economy. We have to go away from fossil fuels, and that means we need alternative forms of energy throughout the state on a massive scale,” Mr. Buchan told Canton trustees. “So, folks like us, towns, villages, counties who are normally part of the permitting process, we have been preempted entirely from the review process. So our role is to make sure the siting board hears our voice and hears the things that we think are important and requires mitigation by the developer.”
The goal for Canton is to have a strong team of intervenors in place to ensure the solar project does not become Canton’s defining feature.
It will likely be more than a year before EDF starts building. During that time, the intervenors will review every inch of the EDF’s application at ores.ny.gov and work with the developers to meet our goals to maintain Canton’s unique agricultural, rural living and higher education.
If there is no stopping the project, we must work to make sure the project is something we can live with.
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thumbs up to solar!
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