Thursday, January 24, 2013

Solar Array Gets Site Plan Approval

City government in Hudson last night was a little like a two-ring circus. With Common Council committee meetings going on in the Council chamber at City Hall, the Planning Commission's public hearing on Basilica Hudson's proposed solar array was moved across the street to the Hoysradt firehouse. Perhaps because they had expected the Planning Commission to waive the public hearing or because the first tentatively scheduled public hearing didn't happen, the folks from the Basilica were there in force, along with a number of advocates for solar energy--both installers and users, the latter apparently all from Livingston--and several elected officials, including First Ward alderman Nick Haddad who had written a letter of support for the project, as did First Ward alderman David Marston. 

Those who hadn't come to the hearing to endorse the project, Basilica Hudson, or Hudson Solar were there to understand the impact of the structure on the viewshed.  The renderings presented (which are badly reproduced below) and Basilica owner Melissa Auf der Maur's description of the structure as "handsome and subtle" and "camouflaging itself into L&B" reassured the people concerned about the viewshed that those proposing the project had been sensitive to how the solar panels would fit into the landscape.

Some additional information about the structure emerged last night. Auf der Maur explained that it was to be a 50-kilowatt system that would produce enough electricity for the Basilica's needs as well as excess that would go back into the grid. Compare that with the 53-kilowatt system being proposed for the Central Firehouse, which is anticipated to produce only 51 percent of the electricity required by that building. The comparison says something about the amount of electricity consumed at the firehouse.

The array at the Basilica will consist of 210 solar panels and will be 32 feet wide and 117 feet long. The panels will be positioned at a 10 degree angle, directed toward the south. At its lowest point, the structure will be 8½ feet high; at its highest point, it will be 16 feet high. There will be space for 24 cars to park beneath it. 

After the public hearing was adjourned, the Planning Commission convened a special meeting to vote on the application. The five members of the commission present--Don Tillson, chair; Gail Grandinetti, Cleveland Samuels, Laura Margolis, and Claudia DeStefano--voted unanimously to approve the application. Commission members Cappy Pierro and Glenn Martin were absent.

1 comment:

  1. I think I can explain the seeming discrepancy between the firehouse and Basilica.
    If Basilica's solar panels will be only at a 10 degree angle they will be effective only in the summer. (Actually about a 14 degree angle is optimum in the summer at Hudson's 42.25 latitude.) To be effective in the winter, the slope would have to be about 67 degrees.
    Apparently Basilica plans to achieve only their summer electrical needs, if they are using a 10 degree slope. The firehouse, maybe, projects producing 51% of it's total year round needs, probably using a slope closer to 40 degrees.

    I especially like the idea of a covered/shaded parking area in the summer, not only for comfort, but for reducing ghg produced by cooling down a hot car.

    The collectors will be a large impermeable surface, however. Is there a plan for directing run off of rainwater to a rain garden or some other collection system?