by Robert Kimmel –
The Town of Greenburgh is anticipating a formal application within the next several months from a company that has proposed building a solar farm in East Irvington. Representatives of the company, Cap Vert Energie (CVE), met preliminarily with the Town Board last month to describe the project which would be placed on 11 privately owned acres near Eiler Lane, mostly surrounded by the Taxter Ridge Park Preserve. The array of solar panels placed on a hill would not be seen by many neighboring residents, according to the company.
“I feel very open-minded about it,” Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner told The Hudson Independent. ”The people whom I have heard from like the concept, but they have expressed concerns about drainage, and possible flooding,“ Feiner said. He also noted there were some worries about the area’s appearance were many trees to be cut down. “What impresses me is that I haven’t gotten comments, such as ‘horrible’ to describe the idea from most people. It seems like an interesting idea, and I have always advocated a solar farm.”
Feiner said that an advisory committee would be created when a proposal comes in and that he would also be working with the East Irvington Civic Association. “There should be about a dozen people who said that they would like to be involved and take part,” he said. He also suggested that any resident who wants to participate should contact him. “We have to be responsive to the community and answer any concerns that they have. We will also meet with a consultant and the questions people have will be reviewed,” the supervisor added. He said that consultants would be asked to conduct environmental reviews.
“Residents who live near the farm could receive as much as 10% savings on their utility bills, and the company is open to providing additional financial incentives to residents who live closest to the proposed solar farm,” Feiner related. As he described it, “The solar farm would feed energy directly into the power grid. Solar farms would produce clean solar power available to residents who live in sections of town that cannot have solar panels.”
Cap Vert Energie is a French renewable energy company, and operates in that country as well as in North America, Chile and Africa. With New York pursuing renewable energy, the company is focusing on our state, and it has also approached Cortlandt, Ossining, Peekskill and Yorktown about developing solar farms. The power created by the solar panels would feed energy directly into the power grid. Con Ed and other suppliers would continue to provide power to community residents.
Westchester residents and businesses have experienced a variety of actions over the last several years to encourage them to utilize renewable energy, whether it is solar, or from other sources. Launched in 2016, Westchester Power, which describes itself as a “community- based energy purchasing program intended to lower costs and increase the use of renewable energy,” operates in 21 municipalities, including Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow, and Irvington, and was recently accepted in Dobbs Ferry when that Village passed enabling legislation. It is also available in the Town of Greenburgh.
The non-profit program, a part of Sustainable Westchester Inc., gives users the choice of selecting 100% renewable, clean energy. Local consumers continue to be billed by their utility company, ConEd, which maintains responsibility for the power infrastructure. By buying power supplies as a group, (Community Choice Aggregation), residents and businesses within a municipality have the advantage of competively priced negotiated flat rates.
“We go to the suppliers to obtain the best prices,” Dan Welsh, Westchester Power Program Director said. Welsh explained that the program’s “…buying power is largely a financial exercise. No one knows exactly what electrons are going into your power supply.” The purchased amounts of renewable energy are converted to Renewable Energy Certificates through a state tracking system to prove compliance with a mandated renewable energy compliance program or “climate action pledge.” Ultimately, they contribute to the quantity of clean energy sourced in the state.
Figures provided by Westchester Power show that in Tarrytown there are 2,962 residential, and 478 commercial users of its program. In Sleepy Hollow, the number of residential users is 2,124, with 371 commercial users. Irvington has 1,657 residential users and 124 commercial users.
The installation of rooftop solar panels is also being encouraged by New York State. Solarize Westchester has promoted the use of such panels with programs that save homeowners up front costs and savings derived directly from their private source of power. Governor Andrew Cuomo launched a “solarize” campaign in 2014, and the State’s Clean Energy Standard mandates that, by 2030, 50 percent of the electricity used in New York must come from renewable sources.