Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Solar Energy and Sunshine

Recently, a reader sent me these pictures of a solar farm within the City of Hudson.

The location, as shown on this map, is behind Hudson High School, near the border with Greenport.

I found this curious because surely a solar farm of this size would require site plan review from the Hudson Planning Board, but I remember no such project coming before the Planning Board. Then my source--the same source who provided the photographs--provided this excerpt from Frequently Asked Questions, updated on December 23, 2015, about a special election on February 9, 2016, in which voters in the Hudson City School District would be asked to decide on three propositions. 
What will I be voting on?  
On February 9, 2016, voters will be asked to decide on the following propositions: 1. Sale of Claverack School ($380,000.00) 2. Capital project and financing ($19.9 million maximum) 3. Solar City property access easement 
The capital project includes building and program improvements across the district campuses (as recommended by the mandatory 5-year building condition survey), with an added benefit of a 400-meter track and artificial turf athletic field facility with lighting.  
The sale of the Claverack School is not included in the proposed capital project, although the Board of Education requires voter approval in order to sell the building. 
The Solar City proposal would install a ground mounted photovoltaic system, which would produce electricity from solar power, on HCSD property behind the Jr./Sr. High School. Through the agreement, HCSD would be purchasing the electricity at a reduced rate (still to be finalized). The Solar City proposition is not part of the capital project.
School property is not subject to local zoning laws and ordinances, which explains why plans for the solar farm did not come before the Hudson Planning Board, but it's not clear why the third proposition listed in the FAQs was dropped. The minutes from the HCSD Board of Education meeting on December 14, 2015, indicate that the board passed a resolution approving a contract with Solar City "for the installation of a photovoltaic system . . . at its facilities located at 215 Harry Howard Ave., Hudson, N.Y." At the next meeting of the school board, on January 11, 2016, HCSD superintendent Maria Suttmeier informed the board that there would be two propositions on the ballot on February 9: the capital project and the sale of Claverack School. The minutes for February 9, 2016--the day of the vote--report the results for those two propositions only.

Back in 2014, Don Moore, then Common Council president, had proposed a different use for this land behind the high school: new housing to increase the city's tax base.   

A discussion with HCSD about this possibility was initiated and a resolution drafted, but nothing came of it. Now it seems a solar farm occupies much of the 30-acre parcel Moore envisioned for housing.

1 comment:

  1. I find it very disappointing that this large solar project was installed very secretly by Solar City which was operating in huge losses and would be bankrupt now if Tesla hadn't bailed them out. Meanwhile, Hudson's own solar company that is running in profit (Lotus Energy), which regularly employs Hudson High School graduates and pays taxes to Hudson Schools was never even considered or consulted. Lotus Energy can install commercial solar farms with the best quality, most powerful solar panels, made in N. America (not using cheap Asian imports). So much for supporting the local economy.