A Partial Observer
The Town of Columbia is being pitched a 350 megawatt solar and 20 MW battery storage project by French owned, and San Diego based EDF Renewables. The project outreach to local landowners began quietly in 2019 and will require approximately 2,200 usable, contiguous acres—equal to 10 percent of the land in the Town of Columbia, which is known to have some of the most fertile farmland in the state.
The flood of large solar projects around New York State popping up over the last few years is fueled by the state’s aggressive goal of using 70 percent renewable energy by 2030. In 2019, the state passed and signed into law the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which led to the creation of the Office of Renewable Energy Siting and, through executive law, the 94-c process, in efforts to speed up and ease the permitting process that project developers had long sought.
New York’s state Legislature and Governor Cuomo approved the sweeping ‘Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act’ (CLCPA) in 2019, setting in motion an aggressive climate change agenda mandating 100 percent zero-emissions electricity by 2040 through a Climate Action Council charged with developing a ‘scoping plan’ of recommendations to meet those and other targets.
Critics say that plan – up for public comment through June 10, 2022 – is too aggressive and expensive for homeowners and businesses; supporters say the plan is less costly to New Yorkers than would be failure to take immediate, tangible action on climate change.
“Consumer and community decision-making is key, and especially important for the purchase of new passenger vehicles and heating systems for homes and businesses through the next decade,” the CAC says on its website (climate.ny.gov). “(z)ero-emission vehicles and heat pumps will need to become the majority of new purchases by the late 2020s, and fossil fuel-emitting cars and appliances will no longer be sold after 2035.”
The CAC also says “Necessary methane emissions mitigation in waste and agriculture will require transformative solutions. Massive diversion of organic waste from landfills and innovative manure management and animal feeding practices coupled with the capture of fugitive methane emissions.”
Otsego County state Senator Peter Oberacker sent a mailing to his district urging public comment, adding the admonition, “Well intended, this plan could mean higher energy and consumer costs for you.”
“This plan is too aggressive to succeed,” he said to The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta. “They’re talking about telling us we can’t have gas-powered cars and appliances. I know people are