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Many remain in dark regarding major Ripley solar project

Attention Ripley residents. Are you aware of the enormous industrial solar project proposed for your town?

This project will be one of the largest solar projects in the state and east of the Mississippi. Connect Gen, the Texas developer of the 270 MW South Ripley Solar Project, is currently evaluating 6,000 acres of land and claims the project will likely be sited on 2,000 acres of leased land. For project information you can access the project’s Department of Public Service website via this link. You may also submit public comments on the web site and register to be a party in the case at. http://documents.dps.ny.gov/public/MatterManagement/CaseMaster.aspx?MatterCaseNo=19-F-0560&submit=Search.

It is important to start attending Town Board meetings and asking detailed questions about this project. Since developers do not want any opposition, they typically do not notify non-participating residents and adjacent land owners [the most impacted stakeholders in their public outreach until well into the Article 10 process. This makes early or meaningful participation impossible or difficult at best.

Ask the developer for accurate project maps, identifying participating land owners/parcels. You can also obtain land lease memorandum from the county records office in Mayville. Who knows? The developers may even be planning to surround your home and property. As taxpaying residents, you have a right to know about the project and be engaged, since at some level the project will affect you. Learn the pros and cons.

Some of these issues include: wetland, wildlife impacts; battery explosions; toxic fires; glare/glint; noise from inverters and transformers; EMF, sterilization/ destruction of vital soil microbes; soil compaction; leaching of chemicals and heavy metals; herbicide use; heat island effect; property devaluation and lack of viable recycling/toxic waste are valid concerns with utility-scale solar.

New York state Agriculture and Markets considers both solar and wind projects a permanent conversion from agricultural to industrial land. Upstate will soon experience an unprecedented loss of green spaces, wetlands and farmland due to the mandated, massive sprawl of low power density, wind and solar projects. Along with wind projects, hundreds of proposed solar projects, both large and small, will transform our rural; and agricultural lands into industrial zones.

Currently, the state’s wind and solar combined, comprise only 4.5% of our energy mix. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has mandated New York must achieve 70% renewables — wind and solar — by 2030. That’s just 10 years! To meet these insanely aggressive goals, rural areas will be irreparably damaged and likely an example for other states not to follow.

Cuomo and the Public Service Commission must use common sense and place these solar projects in brownfields, landfills, on commercial buildings, abandoned parking lots etc., in downstate demand centers; namely New York City and Long Island, which also consume the most fossil fuel. Why foolishly sacrifice rural Upstate when we already utilize 90 percent renewable energy and have significant bottle neck transmission constraints?

Connect-Gen, please go back to sunny Texas and place these panels in your own state where they may produce some meaningful electricity, that actually reaches demand centers, unlike here in cloudy, snowy Western New York. Sadly, due to misguided, onerous mandates and the subsidy gravy train, New York state is ripe for the picking.

Joni Riggle is a Sinclairville resident.

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