Navigating solar energy terrain, Rensselaerville aims to preserve its own

— Enterprise file photo.

Solar panels on the McKownville Methodist Church, 1565 WesternAve., Albany, NY, 12203

RENSSELAERVILLE — A half-dozen residents raised concerns or questions about a proposal for the town’s first-ever solar energy law at an Oct. 1 session held by the committee that drafted it.

When asked for his foremost concern moving ahead, Jason Rauf, who leads the committee, told The Enterprise in an email, “The most challenging aspect of solar development in Rensselaerville is protecting the character and beauty of the town without boxing out any chance of solar development in the town. We need regulation; however, we cannot overregulate.” 

Historic character was a concern, too, with a homeowner in the protected hamlet worried that she’d not be able to install panels on her house. Rauf said it was his personal opinion that, although the town’s zoning code requires planning board approval in the historic hamlet, she would be fine with panels. 

Besides Rauf, who also serves as deputy supervisor, the committee includes Supervisor John Dolce, Assessor Donna Kropp, and citizens John Mormile and Richard Tollner. Kropp was absent from the special meeting. 

Other issues raised were the mandate of “no fewer than two (2) feet of barbed wire” on fences around the perimeter as a safety measure, which even the board seemed ambivalent toward; the positioning requirements of roof-mounted solar energy systems; the availability of low-glare panels; and whether the town will be able to identify the point at which it’s energy-saturated.

Some concerns were relieved with additional clarification — on the matter of barbed wire, Rauf explained that it was related to guidelines put forth by the National Electrical Code but may not be a fencing condition that municipalities are required to follow— while others were simply noted by the committee members. At the top of the meeting, Rauf stressed the committee’s intent to go back to the table with the community feedback. 

After the meeting, Rauf told The Enterprise he’s “not sure at this point if we will hold another meeting...or if we will simply make some changes and present it to the board. It will be up to the committee in regards to how to proceed.”

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