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City to vote on solar agreement

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Contributed photo A solar array planned for the town of Greenport is expected to save the city of Hudson more than $30,000 a year in electricity costs.
August 19, 2019 05:09 pm Updated: August 19, 2019 11:06 pm

HUDSON – City leaders will vote on whether the city will opt into a community solar farm that could save taxpayers thousands of dollars in electricity costs.

The contract between East Light Partners and the City of Hudson to establish a solar farm will be up for a vote at the Common Council formal meeting Tuesday in the Common Council Chambers, 520 Warren St., at 7 p.m.

For over a year, East Light Partners has been working with the city’s Economic Development Committee chaired by Fourth Ward Alderman Rich Volo and other local organizations to develop a community solar farm off Route 9 near Ten Broeck Road in Greenport.

Last year, East Light Partners asked the city to be one of the purchasers of the electricity generated from the soon-to-be-installed farm. Greenport could also benefit.

The city typically spends between $300,000 and $400,000 year on electricity for its municipal buildings and street lights. The city will annually save 10%, or $30,000 and $40,000, if the city buys electricity from East Light Partners’ solar farm in Greenport, Volo estimated.

“The city’s budget increases by about $200,000 per year due to health insurance costs and other long-term contracts,” Volo said in a statement. “Even though I would love to say that this frees up money for another project, what this will actually do is lessen the cost increases for next year’s budget, saving the taxpayers money.”

The contract does not prevent the city from entering into another contract or developing solar arrays on its own in the future.

“There is a cost advantage to a community solar farm which saves money and time by building one large farm as opposed to smaller solar arrays on many rooftops,” Volo said. “The city also has no upfront costs for this project as opposed to creating and paying for smaller projects on its own.”

Residents will also be able to sign up to participate in the program.

East Light Partners presented its plan in front of the Common Council, the Economic Development and Finance committees of the Common Council and at a public forum held earlier this month.

The project will have no adverse visual impacts, according to Hayley Carlock, director of environmental advocacy for Scenic Hudson. The solar array in the original plan obscured the views of Olana and the Bronson House.

“We are pleased that ELP [East Light Partners] no longer proposes solar panels in the north field, avoiding visual impacts to the Plumb Bronson House,” Carlock wrote in a comment. “We reviewed the applicant’s visual simulations of views from the Olana State Historic Site and do not believe there will be any impact on views from Olana.”

The Olana Partnership has since submitted a letter to the Town of Greenport Planning Board confirming that the project will not directly affect Olana.

The Hudson Economic Development Committee investigated other sites, such as the former county landfill in the city, but the landfill is capped and cannot be used for development, according to a statement issued by the Department of Environmental Conservation.