Making it tough to pass on solar

Utility scale solar installations make no sense in Western New York.

The energy industry standard of energy efficiency is called “Energy Returned on Energy Invested “ (ERoEI). Consider the energy expended to manufacture, transport, install and decommission utility scale solar compared to the amount of electricity New York solar can produce. Forbes Magazine states industrial solar in northern latitudes falls below the “economically viable threshold.” Why would policy makers encourage a project that uses more energy to build than it can produce in its lifetime?

Industrial solar “relies on the most toxic industrial processes ever created. PV panels are not made of sand, which has too many impurities, but of high quality mined quartz and coal melted together at 1,800 degrees. …Producing symbolic power has seduced well-meaning environmentalists into making bad decisions,” said energy engineer Ozzie Zehner, UCLA (”Planet of the Humans”).

There is one reason to promote utility solar – if you are a developer, you can make lots of money from the subsidies. See “Why Is Solar Energy Getting 250 Times More Federal Tax Credits Than Nuclear?” by Robert Bryce, Forbes Dec. 27.

EDPR, developer for the Cold Water Solar project, said solar has a 10% capacity factor in Western New York. That makes the claim of 270 MW by South Ripley Solar developer ConnectGen about 27 MW – for an expenditure of $350 million. The federal, state and local subsidies, the add-on subsidies on our utility bills, and the sale of “green “credits (bought by NYSERDA and BPU) may provide a substantial profit to the developers, but is no justification for the destruction of a large portion of a pristine, rural community. Without subsidies solar in Western New York would not happen.

A South Ripley Solar representative admitted during a town meeting in 2020 the sale of electricity is “peanuts” compared to the sale of the “green credits.” Imagine what $350 million invested in useful businesses, grape, wine, tourism, agricultural projects, in Ripley could accomplish.

Karen Engstrom is a Mayville and part of Chautauqua Updates, a documentary film group.


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