Land swap for solar farm would be a win-win

To the Editor:

I am writing out of concern for the siting of the proposed solar array by Helios Energy, with over 15,000 panels on the 61-acre site adjacent to the Altamont Orchards and Orchard Creek Golf Course.

As a strong environmentalist, I am very much an advocate for increased solar power and the governor’s goals for renewable energy resources to address climate change. However, I feel it is also very important that, in siting solar facilities, we take into account protection of our scenic, historic, and economic resources.

As stated in Scenic Hudson’s A Guide to Siting Renewable Energy in the Hudson Valley, “Renewable resources and infrastructure should avoid impacts on scenic resources/community character.”

Clearly, the location of the industrial-level Helios Energy array, as you enter Altamont from the north, will not only dramatically change the feel and scenic character of this area, but will also have a very adverse impact on one of most vibrant businesses in western Guilderland.

The Altamont Orchards and Orchard Creek Golf course are thriving businesses that bring in hundreds of people throughout the area and beyond, and are the kind of green-business use that definitely are positive for the community, ones we should support. The siting of the solar farm next to it will definitely have an adverse economic impact.

But there is an alternative!

A land swap has been offered by the Abbruzzese family that will provide comparable acreage just over the hill but in a protected view, allowing for the solar farm to be built in its entirety, and still with the same benefits for the landowner. I honestly view this as a win-win situation.

Communities are dealing with this issue all over the state, and it is really uncomfortable to be viewed by some as being against solar energy, when this is truly not the case. If strong siting guidelines can be initiated in advance, we can both preserve our viewsheds while at the same time advocating for the dramatic increase in clean energy we all demand.

I would like to praise Guilderland Supervisor Peter Barber for taking the initiative to propose a stronger solar energy law to give the town’s planning and zoning boards the direction they need to address siting of solar facilities now and in the future.

Please attend or write to voice your opinions to the Altamont Referral Committee, meeting on Thursday, Feb. 13; the Altamont Village Board, meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 26, where the Referral Committee recommendations will be voted on; and the Guilderland Zoning Board of Appeals, meeting when that date is set. Thank you.

Kristin Casey


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