In a couple of spots not far from our borders, fields of solar panels have appeared within the past year. Now it seems someone has had the idea of creating a field of solar panels within the city limits of Hudson, on the capped landfill at the north end of Second Street, adjacent to North Bay.
John Mason reports today in the Register-Star about a proposal to rent land on the former county dump to create a "community solar" array: "Solar for landfill gets cold shoulder." The proposal, which was presented by a representative of Monolith Solar at the invitation of Stuyvesant supervisor Ron Knott, who chairs the county Public Works Committee, was not enthusiastically received by Hudson supervisors Don Moore (Third Ward) and Sarah Sterling (First Ward) or by Peter Paden of the Columbia Land Conservancy.
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I brought up this idea to the council years ago and it was dismissed for various reasons. It is a great idea and other communities are putting solar arrays on old landfill sites. However this is a project that should be built and owned by the city, not rented, sold or farmed out to a private company. This is just another commercial rip off. Solar panels yes- that will generate power for the people, not to line the pockets of utility companies.ReplyDelete
Based on the article in the Register-Star, leasing the land for a solar array would generate $5,000. The City could certainly use the money. I think the idea deserves open-minded consideration as we think about the future of the North Bay in particular and the waterfront in general. Perhaps something like this could be "built and owned by the City." I wonder how much it would cost to do that.ReplyDelete
jkhunka--$5,000 seems an insignificant contribution to the City coffers, and I don't think the $5,000 would necessarily come to the City. I haven't confirmed this, but I'm pretty sure that Columbia County owns the landfill and is responsible for its maintenance.Delete
The County owns the landfill and would happily take $5 to deny the City anything. Even if the City did own it, $5k/year is an insulting rent for 10 acres, on top of a land fill or not. By the way, why is it bad for a human to walk across the cap but ok for heavy construction equipment and industrial solar panels to be placed on it? This makes no sense on its face as far as I can tell. All in all, the County's plan is more about rewarding Monolith (a reliable supporter of the County status quo) than either alternative and sustainable energy production or revenue.ReplyDelete
Correct me if I am wrong but when this area was considered for a dog park, we were told it was not safe. And, it would cost hundreds of thousands to clean up before being used. Like John said, why is it now ok for construction to begin there?ReplyDelete
You are right, Colleen. We were advised that dogs romping on the landfill could damage the cap. I guess once the solar panels are in place, they do no harm to the cap, but getting them there seems as if it would have to.Delete
I have been advised that what I said about dogs romping on the landfill was not quite right. Ellen Jouret-Epstein provided the following information in an email: "The issue of dogs on the landfill has mainly been a concern over its effects on wildlife. The “meadow” portion of the site can be managed to support bird nesting and other wildlife, and the site has long been pointed out as valuable for that. As for damage to the cap from walking on it, walking routes should best be limited and carefully sited. It is repeated traversing of areas over time that could create compaction and erosion issues and consequent problems for the total cap profile."Delete
It took years to get the County to coordinate its mowing of the North Bay landfill with the nesting season of Bobolinks, a NYS Species of Greatest Conservation Need.Delete
Bobolinks nested there in recent memory, but year after the County destroyed the nests, even after promising to change the schedule the following year, after that year's fresh destruction.
It was Superintendent Sterling and Mr. Paden who finally prevailed upon the County, but each year we wait and see if the County will revert to its previous ignorance.
Meanwhile, the Bobolinks haven't returned to nest on the landfill, even though riverside meadows are a classic habitat in which to find them nesting.
As long as people let their dogs off-leash, which is prohibited at North Bay, ground nesting birds aren't safe. That's only during June and July, but people insist on breaking the law 12 months a year.
It's unfortunate for nature that our ignorance always has the upper hand.
"I guess once the solar panels are in place, they do no harm to the cap"...wouldn't a boardwalk be equally harmless?Delete
Many thanks to Supervisors Sterling and Moore, and to Mr. Paden.ReplyDelete
Putting solar panels on the landfill would be a small step in the right direction if we are serious about stopping global warming. I know that the Columbia Land Conservancy is concerned about this issue, since the world is confronting a mass extinction of species, including migratory bird species, as a result of climate change. As Tip O'Neill said, "Think globally. Act locally."ReplyDelete
"Think globally, act locally" ... was it Mao or Lenin who launched that one?Delete
Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, stated, "From waterfowl to songbirds to shorebirds, the climate crisis is the most serious threat this century facing America’s migratory birds. We need urgent action at the local, state and federal levels to cut carbon pollution and confront the changes we’re already seeing." The CLC needs to weigh the value of the grassland on the landfill as habitat against the value of the solar panels in the battle against climate change. If the landfill isn't an appropriate place for solar panels, what place is?ReplyDelete
If you only see the North Bay as a landfill, you could arrive at your point of view. But if you learn more about North Bay's importance as a tidal wetland, the ecosystem that supports, and its value to people in the urban context, then you might conclude that it's easier to find another location for solar arrays than to find another North Bay.Delete
Instead of speaking about "birds" in general, I invite you to learn about Bobolinks and Savannah Sparrows, as the CLC has.Delete
The CLC is making the right choice in this instance by not thinking so "globally," as you'd have it.
(Seriously, what distinguishes your motto from something chanted by rote during the Chinese Cultural Revolution? Let's decide to be knowledgeable about place - the particular flora and fauna of Hudson - and save the revolutionary tropes for marches on Washington.)
Well said, Ellen JE!Delete
The combination of short radius rolling hills and sensitive cap on the landfill makes this an inappropriate location for solar. There are plenty of other sites in the region which have the right characteristics for a community-scale solar installation.ReplyDelete
Michael, Could you please state "specific sites" in the county that have the "right characteristics" for such an installation? What I see here is a classic NIMBY problem. For example, many residents along the coast of New England who claimed that they were very worried about climate change balked when power companies proposed erecting wind turbines along the coastline. I see a similar problem here in Columbia County and Hudson. Concerned citizens (including the CLC) say that we need to take urgent action to reduce our reliance on fossil fuel. Now, people are outraged if anyone proposes using the North Bay for recreation, conservation AND mitigation of climate change. Perhaps the real problem here is that the people on this list really don't give a damn about global warming. Everyone objects to solar panels, but you, Michael, are the only person who has suggested an alternative. Well said, Michael!Delete
While I don't have a specific alternative site in mind, the characteristics of terrain that would add up to a site being considered "good" would be:Delete
- relatively even surface, level or sloped southward
- unshaded for most of every day
- close to a potential connection to the electrical power grid of appropriate capacity to receive the power generated at the site. * The match between grid capacity and power output will need to evaluated by the utility in many cases, with a study requested by the system developer.
- in the same "load zone" of the same utility as the users of the power.
* If a system is intended to generate power for the benefit of users in Hudson, the property used could be in the City, the town of Greenport or anywhere along a strip of land a few miles wide towards the North and then East-West into Renssalaer, Albany and Schenectady Counties - all National Grid-served areas. It would not work, for example, if the array was located in Germantown or Hillsdale, which are served by the Central Hudson and NYSEG utility companies.
The opening of the market for "Community Distributed Generation" has inspired a number of developers to contact land-owners throughout NYS (who have been identified by satellite images and land records) with offerings of long term leases for their land for this purpose at prices sometimes mentioned of $1,000/acre/yr. I've attended several meetings on the topic, and there are more meetings being organized by the Cornell Cooperative Extension to help landowners and elected officials understand what the implications are for all concerned.
The new array that's south of us on Blue Hill will service St. Peter's Hospital in Albany.Delete
The Blue Hill array must be just north of the National Grid/NYSEG boundary.
I'm not convinced that this type of "community solar" is a savings to the consumer. Remember Viridian? No need to rush on that but we do need to get the RFP off the ground. Jolene Race has assured me that no mowing until September thanks to Tim's persistent efforts!ReplyDelete
Thanks Sarah, for checking up on the County's mowing schedule. Each spring I must revisit my old worries for our North Bay Bobolinks, when I should have remembered Ms. Race's name from the last time. She seem to be the one to ask.Delete
And thank you Michael, Ellen [JE], and Carole.
Climate change is real jkhunka, but we shouldn't sacrifice everything we value until it's irrefutable that the sky is about to fall.
I believe the rate will be more gradual than what we've been led to believe. For example, there are still people who believe in Al Gore's dire "5 year" projections, which he made 7 years ago.
Similarly (in my opinion), the Hudson River Estuary Program has just informed us that "flooding is expected to be 4" to 8" higher" in the next 4 years.
Um, I'll be the proverbial Missourian to that claim ...
The ridiculous numbers we're hearing are thanks to a commitment made in Albany to reject the projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and to go all in with the discredited semi-empirical model (SEM).
The consequences of this "all in" decision - which is certainly political in nature - are alarming.
Just consider the influence of the 2010 "NYS Sea Level Rise Task Force"; the Governor's 2013 "NYS 2100 Commission"; and NYSERDA's "ClimAID" (2013; with 2014 supplements).
At least these reports carried disclaimers, but when the predictions trickle down to the level of the DEC's Estuary Program, municipalities up and down the river are informed that these ridiculous numbers are actually "expected." (In the long run, this propaganda, which is what it is, will bring in more money for the Estuary Program.)
New York State is 100% committed to a model so extreme that the 800 scientists who authored the IPCC's AR5 reported "low agreement about their [SEM's] reliability, [with] LOW CONFIDENCE in their projections" [emphasis in the original; Working Group I, p. 1185].
The SEM projections for sea level rise are twice those of the IPCC, and it's these exaggerated scenarios you've mentioned to us before at Gossips, when you provided a link to the 2010 "NYS Sea Level Rise Task Force."
I dutifully read the paper, and it was junk science in 2010 and junk science now.
So why not stick with the real science of the IPCC, then shift your worries to Bobolinks and Least Bitterns instead.
Here's a nice background piece about NIMBY opposition to the proposed wind turbines at Martha's Vineyard. Sound familiar?ReplyDelete
"The battle for energy reform has reached a turning point with the impending ruling on Massachusetts' long-delayed Cape Wind project, a primer on what can go wrong with the politics of wind energy."
jkhunka: I would say a very big difference is that locations for wind energy are limited and specific--only certain locations provide wind conditions suitable for wind turbines. In contrast, the sun falls everywhere, and there is no reason why solar facilities can't be put on low value lands. While the fact that this is a landfill obviously limits the options, it also abuts the North Bay and the waterfront, is important habitat, and there are other plans for the land that can't be replicated everywhere the sun shines.ReplyDelete
Here's a link to a recent article in National Geographic magazine. Solar panels can be beautiful!ReplyDelete