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EDITORIAL: Is there a way?

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HAVE YOU SEEN any of the solar farms sprouting up around the county? If not, have somebody else do the driving. Then cruise through Claverack, Kinderhook, Germantown. These communities host just a few of the local sites where solar panel farms have blossomed.

In this area it’s likely we’ll see more of these solar farms here and around the state in the immediate future due to a state law called Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). It says this state will generate 70% of our electricity by renewable energy and do it by the year 2030; and we’ll have to make all of our electricity with renewable sources by the year 2040.

There’s more to CLCPA, which was adopted in 2019, but for the moment let’s stay with the new regulatory agency the law created to “review” applications for new major renewable energy goals. The agency is called Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES). A few years ago applications for large scale renewable plants were moving slowly through the siting process. But ORES has a year to issue each permit. Or does it?

A developer from Chicago called Hecate wants to build what appears to be the largest solar farm in the county so far. The site is in the Town of Copake close to the hamlet of Craryville. It would take up 228 acres of an 880 acres project site. It would be qualified as a site for a solar farm except that town zoning does not permit such large development. The Copake Town Board and other entities are suing ORES in an effort to block the Hecate project.

It would seem that ORES has the authority to overrule the town and declare the site approved “by default.” But right now ORES and Hecate are contacting each other about “incomplete” details. It’s as if the agency is toothless.

The CLCPA law intentionally gave the power to wrap up completed application review of sites in a limited time period. So much for speedy “review.”

By passing the CLCPA, the state has acknowledged the peril we face from the warmer climate—the one we adults have helped to unleash.

It’s time for a compromise with Hecate, ORES and Copake all at the table. It’s time to build the solar farm.

It is no longer a matter of whose property value is most at risk, whose authority is reduced. If we can’t contribute to helping others as well as ourselves what will we have accomplished? What will we have lost?

The Hecate project will make a tiny contribution to slowing the temperature of our planet. But it’s in the right direction. No better direction is at hand.

Find a compromise. Build the solar farm.

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