Residents discontented with proposed solar farmBy Lucia Suarez
STAFF WRITER | July 13,2013PITTSFORD — Residents living next to the River Street pump station are voicing their discontent about a proposed solar farm on the town land behind their homes.
At an informal meeting earlier this week with several town officials and the project promoter Green Earth Energy, neighbors of the pump station said they could not fathom why the town would consider putting solar panels on an open field.
“Why can’t the industrial solar be in the cities?” asked George Clifford, who lives across from the proposed site. “I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. I didn’t pay thousands of dollars to have industrial crap in my backyard.”
He said residents do not want to see the solar panels, which would impede people’s view to the ridgeline. He said the town is rural and the project is “not smart.”
These sentiments were also echoed by Amy Moriglioni, who said they want to keep the open field as is without any interruption. She said her kids walk through it all summer to go fishing.
“Why take that away from us?” she asked.
Moriglioni, who said she only heard about the meeting after Clifford mentioned it a couple of hours beforehand, said there are pros and cons to solar farms, especially in how they are made.
“We are not fond of them in our house, at least not here,” she said.
The project in question was proposed by Green Earth Energy, a Brandon solar energy installer that’s part of the McKernon Group. The company approached the town to propose the construction of 25 solar arrays, each with 24 panels on solar trackers, on the unused land around the pump station in Florence. The project scope has since gone down to about 15 solar arrays, but the location is still the same and residents do not like it.
The project would be owned by Green Lantern Capital out of Waterbury and the town would receive a 10 percent savings on its electricity bill — equivalent to nearly $2,900 a year. The company would have a 20-year agreement for the project and the town would have an option to purchase after at least seven years.
If the town does not purchase the project, Green Lantern Capital would decommission it and “put it back to how it used to be,” said Jim Crawford of Green Earth Energy.
“The financing company takes all the risk,” he said.
Crawford added that the solar panels would not produce a mirror effect and that the only oil needed on-site would be about a gallon of oil for each tracker.
Town Manager John Haverstock said the conversations with the developer are still ongoing and nothing is set in stone. He said more discussions will continue among residents and town officials as early as the next Select Board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“It’s not a greenlighted or redlighted project,” Haverstock said. “... Our thought was if it’s going to save taxpayers some money, we might as well listen to them.”
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