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Sierra Club sees benefits in Ripley solar project

The Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, representing more than 50,000 members and supporters throughout New York State, has endorsed the South Ripley Wind project. The decision to support the project comes after a thorough review process that considered evidence of protection of wildlife, land and water, as well as community involvement and benefits. The review, conducted by volunteers, used information in the Office of Renewable Energy siting application as well as touring the project area, attending community meetings, and reviewing scientific evidence on the safety and benefits of solar energy.

The Sierra Club has been in the forefront of protecting our environment for more than a century.

We support well-sited renewable energy because we know that it’s necessary to stop mining and burning fossil fuels if we are to reduce the impact of the climate crisis and leave a thriving and safe planet to our next generations, and to the birds and other species who share this planet with us.

Solar and wind power are safe, less expensive than fossil power because there are no fuel costs, and help farmers and other rural residents to keep their land by getting supplemental income from unused acreage. South Ripley Solar will produce enough electricity to power more than 45,000 homes and will also generate much-needed revenue for the town of Ripley, the Ripley and Sherman School Districts, and Chautauqua County, reducing residents’ taxes.

It is unfortunate that those resistant to technological change, or afraid of losing fossil fuel revenue, have spread misinformation about solar energy. Solar panels do not harm the soil, are mainly composed of harmless silicone, and are recyclable. Solar sites can be quickly restored after the 30-year life of the projects. Pollinator-attracting plants can grow under and around them to help with the decline of beneficial insects that pollinate our crops.

The project also includes battery storage for overnight — but it’s important to know that solar panels generate electricity whenever there is daylight, not only on the brightest and hottest days.

Ellen Cardone Banks is a Amherst resident and Conservation Chair of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter.

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